CEO Memo: Lessons from parliamentary culture inquiry likely to impact all workplaces

The workplace practices overseen by our nation’s leaders are in the spotlight and a new inquiry, to be conducted by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, is set to propel these issues further into the public domain.

The independent review is likely to throw light on several key culture questions currently unfolding at the very top levels of government concerning respect and safety: workplace bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The formal scrutiny of workplace practices is effective immediately with federal parliamentarians and staff invited, and encouraged, to submit their experiences. Governance Institute has strongly welcomed this initiative and will be making a formal submission to the review.


The findings of the review are likely to ricochet through many workplaces, providing a serious reminder to all leaders and managers that promoting a safe, positive, and respectful workplace culture needs to be at the heart of what we do.

The review touches on some core governance issues including values, trust, due processes and transparency and how these impact appointments and workplace practices, particularly when concerns are raised by staff members.

It has been a tumultuous time for gender equality in 2021 with so many startling allegations of unacceptable behaviour, sadly impacting many sectors of society from schools, to the highest levels of government.

It has been a difficult time for those bravely sharing their stories, but momentum is now building on these issues and there is hope for a genuine shift in workplace and societal culture as a result.

The review has been tasked with finding ‘constructive measures that can be implemented to achieve best practice in the prevention and handling of workplace bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault.’ We look forward to these initiatives being announced and will be monitoring developments closely.

Further details about the review and process can be found here.

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Material published in Governance Directions is copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.