Sunday, June 16, 2024

Infrastructure ‘hotties list’ prompts new respectful workplace program

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The Department of Infrastructure has said it is taking steps to reform workplace culture following last year’s ‘hottie list’ scandal.

A list that ranked the perceived “hotness” of female employees at the department was rumoured to have been circulated by junior male employees.

While departmental secretary Jim Betts said he was unable to confirm its existence, that didn’t mean it did not exist.

“We’ve learnt some lessons from this and one of those is around having gender balance at all levels and in all cohorts,” he said.

“We will never have a future graduate program where the gender balance is two-thirds male and one-third female.”

In the months since this story broke, Infrastructure has added a respectful workplace program to its four-week induction process, and a “team charter of acceptable behaviours”.

A departmental spokesperson said the department had a long history of promoting cultural inclusion — including gender equality.

“Graduates will participate in Words at Work training delivered by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) about using language as a powerful tool for building inclusion at work and to create a sense of everyone being valued, respected, included,” they said.

“Disability Confident training and an unconscious bias program delivered by DCA.

“Graduates will also have access to mentors and buddies to support their entry into the Australian Public Service.”

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has identified this as an integrity issue, pointing to a range of training programs they offer for graduates and employees.

Integrity training is compulsory for all new starters, including graduates, and must be completed within six months of starting in the APS.

Last year, APSC released its integrity taskforce report, Louder than Words. While it did not make immediate updates to the APS code of conduct, the 1999 code currently in use asks employees to “treat everyone with respect and courtesy, and without harassment”.

Additional guidance notes breaches of this part of the code of conduct may also be breaches of the Fair Work Act or anti-discrimination legislation.

“Workplace harassment entails offensive, belittling or threatening behaviour directed at an individual or group of employees. Such behaviour is unwelcome, unsolicited, usually unreciprocated and usually, but not always, repeated,” they said.

“Even if the behaviour is not meant deliberately, it can still be harassment where a reasonable person would conclude that it would humiliate, offend, intimidate or cause a person unnecessary hurt or distress.

“The law also has specific provisions relating to sexual harassment, racial hatred and disability harassment. Examples of discriminatory harassment include telling insulting jokes about particular racial groups, sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails or text messages displaying racially offensive or pornographic posters or screen savers, making derogatory comments or taunts about a person’s disability, asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including his or her sex life.”


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Public servants ranked female workers on ‘hotties list’

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