Media veteran Tracey Spicer has delivered a grim assessment of Australia’s commercial radio industry in how it deals with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Speaking as part of a panel at the Radio Alive 2018 conference in Melbourne on Friday, Spicer said she has witnessed “tremendous change happen at the very top end of town” in response to workplace sexual harassment since the #MeToo movement began.
“There’s really hardcore stuff happening at the executive and board level of most blue-chip companies,” she told attendees.
“There’s a lot of stuff happening at a working-class level too. The unions are doing terrific stuff.
However, Spicer said one industry where she isn’t seeing change in the workplace is in the media sector – in particular, commercial radio.
“I’ve worked across all the mediums, and some of the most toxic workplaces I’ve worked in have been in commercial radio, and I think that’s a terrible shame,” she said.
“I think this sector really needs to look at getting more women in positions of management, taking these things seriously, looking at world’s best practice, because diversity and inclusion is good for the bottom line, and you need to have safe workplaces.”
Spicer blamed Australia’s conservative nature, strict defamation laws and lack of free speech protections for the #MeToo movement gaining less traction Down Under compared to the US.
“It’s been very difficult from an investigative journalist’s perspective,” she said.
The veteran journo noted that of the 2000-odd workplace sexual harassment disclosures (roughly 95 per cent from women and five per cent from men) she’s received so far, half of the women have shown sympathy for male offenders, saying they didn’t want them to lose their job over it, despite being serial predators.
“And yet, if these women did have the support and confidence to speak out, this person wouldn’t have gone on to predate on other people,” Spicer said.
“The other thing we discovered [was] most of the serial predators who sexually harass women also bully other men in the workplace, so this movement is good for everybody.”