Universal Music Australia launches workplace culture investigation
Universal Music is the latest major record label to launch a local investigation into allegations of bullying, harassment, racism, homophobia, discrimination and sexual assault within its ranks.
Staff were informed of the investigation on Friday.
UMA’s president, George Ash, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age’s Nathaniel Cooper he was “heartbroken” to read the allegations.
“My initial response was ‘I don’t know whether the allegations are true or not’ but it made me think we haven’t done enough and we need to do more in our company,” Ash said in Cooper’s report. “I need to step up and take responsibility.”
He acknowledged the company could have done better.
“In some ways I feel like I have let people down,” he said. “It’s not the company or the culture I want to work in . . . if people are feeling like that then I need to address things.”
Despite Ash admitting ultimate responsibility – including for telling an inappropriate joke over a Zoom call – some staff remain disgruntled at the pace of change, noting that some concerns were raised up to 18 months ago.
Ash said he hopes the investigation now underway by Seyfarth Shaw will act as a catalyst for change at UMA and within the wider industry.
“If there is any positive to come of this, it creates that catalyst for us to speak openly about things and hopefully address things to create a workplace culture that people can be proud of,” he said.
UMA declined to comment further on the story.
UMA’s investigation comes in the wake of extensive upheaval at rival Sony Music.
Sony Music’s local operation became the subject of an investigation in June after multiple allegations of bullying and harassment.
Not long after the investigation’s launch, Sony Music Australia and New Zealand’s CEO, Denis Handlin, left the organisation after more than 50 years.
The future leadership at Sony Music Australia remains uncertain, and a law firm is currently considering a class action against the major label.
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How did we get here? A timeline of Universal Music Australia’s Culture Reset:
August 9, 2021: Universal Music Australia Launches Workplace Culture Investigation
October 6, 2021: Ben Facey Out of Universal Music
June 9, 2022: UMA Launches Culture Task Force: Read The Internal Memo (EXCLUSIVE)
June 20, 2022: Universal Music Australia Faces Fresh Workplace Misconduct Investigation (EXCLUSIVE)
June 22, 2022: Universal Music’s Global HR Boss, Eric Hutcherson, Arrives in Australia Amid Culture Crisis (EXCLUSIVE)
July 6, 2022: Darren Aboud Exits Universal Music Australia (EXCLUSIVE)
July 7, 2022: Universal Music Reveals Leadership Changes, John O’Donnell Retires