What is sufficient punishment for sexual harrassment?
One of Australia’s biggest companies, AMP (Australia Mututal Provident Society) was roundly criticised for not sacking AMP Capital boss Boe Pahari after he sexually harassed Julia Szlakowski, in 2017.
“Women will not be able to progress within organisations for as long as men get rewarded or do not have detriment to their career if they sexually harass women and women leave the organisation,” says Louise Davidson, chief executive of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investor’s (ACSI).
Sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it — so what did Pahari actually do?
He invited Szlakoswki to London for a meeting, then asked her to join him at a nightclub with friends. He suggested she stay longer in London, and offered to buy her clothes so he could take her out to dinner. When she refused, he complained that it made him look like a “limp dick” infront of his mates. He also called another employee “a fag”, and asked her about the “oldest man she dated” in front of colleagues.
Sydney Morning Herald columnist Elizabeth Knight describes this monstrous behaviour as an “elaborate and determined pattern of sexual harassment“. But all’s well in the end, surely, because Szlakowski enjoyed a tasty $500,000 settlement and still gets to play aggrieved victim from afar. Because nobody moves-on anymore, even those whose pain and suffering is assauged by a fat stack of cash.
Reputational damage, the share price, and investor outcry also resulted in a boardroom coup. Several male members were ousted, including AMP chair David Murray. Everybody in the #MeToo camp cheered: The bloodletting was “clearly warranted if the company was going to project itself as being a modern outfit up for cultural reform from the top, led by a new female chair” say the simps at Crikey.
Errr… the chair at the time of Pahari’s misconduct was a female. Yet Catherine Brenner, who later resigned over the ‘fees for no service’ scandal, is untouched by the Pahari sexual harrassment mudslinging and now emerges phoenix-like as a corporate gender-victim martyr?
Chiming in to remind us that $500K really isn’t that much because a girl has, you know, like, lifestyle expenses, Szlakowski says: “Now AMP has two choices: it can continue to downplay a credible sexual harassment complaint, which impugns all survivors, or take action to bring about lasting and meaningful change.“
But what exactly is ‘meaningful change’?
Simply this: The only satisfactory penalty for serious sexual harrassment is ending the offender’s employment. I absolutely support this. Because without their jobs, odious men like Boe Pahari are just fat ugly losers no woman would ever look at twice.
Boe Pahari, of course, is the absolute opposite of a loser. Probably the most successful hire at AMP in the last twenty years, Pahari kept his job because the board (including its female members) know his value to the business vastly outweighs the cost of his misconduct.
That is what the real workd deems sufficient punishment for sexual harrassment.
But turn that frown upside down, because your turn to Boe is coming! Now that you’re all ladybosses, there will be a lots of good-looking young men out there looking for a mortgage-buster. You’ll be glad of the Pahari precedent when you keep your job for the heinous sin of flirting with some asshole across the bar after your next AGM.