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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Corporate tommy rot at Channel 9, The Bulletin & PBL

The fur has been flying this week in corporate Australia - in particular Channel 9 and PBL. The corporate culture at 9 and within its owner PBL has been revealed in a most unattractive fashion.

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Julie Szego in her article Blokes on Top in to-day's The Age analyses it for its impact on women in corporate Australia, particularly in light of presenter of To-day, Jessica Rowe, and editor of The Bulletin, Kathy Bail. Both of these people and the way they have been and are being treated by PBL seem to give credence to the adage that women have to work twice as hard as men to be seen as being half as good. And guess who's in the thick of it, that sporting icon turned corporate executive, Eddie Everywhere. What a good look, Eddie! You've done yourself proud - I must say. And for all those blokes here in Melbourne who think Eddie is a creditable and shining example of Australian manhood, take a tip from Miss Eagle - he's not!

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What you won't get from the on-line edition of The Age that is in the print edition is the accompanying photographs of five top female Australian executives. Namely:

One "prominent male business figure" who declined to be named is quoted as saying that "more women will be appointed to boards when more put themselves forward". Well no wonder he doesn't want to be named - names won't be quoted to protect the guilty? Two points I would make to you Mr Cowardly Unnamed Businessman:

  1. Representation by women on boards and in higher executive positions does not and should not rely on women "putting themselves forward". Women should be there because they are just as entitled - and frequently more entitled - than men to be there based on skills, merits, and their ability to communicate with a wider public.
  2. If the system did rely on women "putting themselves forward", why on earth would they? Could Mr Cowardly Unnamed Businessman please tell Miss Eagle why any of the five women named above would want to or wish to or aspire to work in such a culture as that prevailing at PBL, The Bulletin and Channel 9? Why would any of those five women want to work with Eddie McGuire? What skills do Eddie McGuire and John Lehmann (who was preferred ahead of Kathy Bail) have that makes them stand out from a host of well-qualified women employed in media and business?

All Miss Eagle can say is thanks be that all this is being revealed. Too often, Australians are encouraged - particularly by political leaders - to admire business executives and directors as people of achievement and probity. If one thing is clear from the events of the last week, it is that these are shabby people doing shabby deals advancing people over whom hang doubts about whether their ability is of sufficient rank to justify their promotion.

And we are supposed to think that Australian business is operating at the height of efficiency and in the best interest of its "stakeholders"? Phooey!