Music industry bodies ARIA and APRA AMCOS have published statements following the Four Corners investigation into Sony Music Australia and its recently dismissed CEO Denis Handlin.
The investigation aired claims of a culture of bullying, discrimination and misconduct at the label under Handlin. It also reported on sexual harassment allegations, a “laddish” culture at the company and discrimination against female employees who became pregnant while working for Sony.
Handlin was ousted from the top job at Sony by the label’s global headquarters in June and automatically removed as chair of the ARIA board at the same time.
In a statement to Four Corners, Handlin wrote: “I have always provided support and encouragement to women in the industry and personally championed diversity”.
“I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner,” he said. “At any time I was made aware of this sort of behaviour I took action to ensure that it was stopped and didn’t occur again.”
ARIA’s statement arrived late last night, after the episode aired on the ABC, and began, “No one should feel unsafe, harassed, discriminated against, or bullied in the workplace.”
“ARIA will continue to work towards safety, inclusion and equality across the music industry including through the cultural change process that was started in May this year. We will listen to the voices that need to be heard and provide our wholehearted support every step of the way,” an ARIA spokesperson said.
— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) October 11, 2021
In its statement this morning, APRA AMCOS acknowledged “there’s still much work to do in this space”, and highlighted its recent commitment to an equity action plan and a review of its sexual harassment and harm prevention framework.
“Last night’s program was distressing and disheartening viewing. APRA AMCOS wants to be part of a music industry that upholds a high level of professional respect, conduct and integrity, and does not condone any form of discrimination, harassment or bullying,” the statement read.
“Bullying and sexual harassment in the music industry is not inevitable, it is not acceptable. It is preventable and APRA AMCOS is committed to working with our industry so that we can collectively bring about this shift in culture.”
Four Corners spoke to more than 100 current and former Sony staff for the report, including former executive Tony Glover, who was dismissed in April following a weeks-long investigation that uncovered allegations he had bullied and harassed Sony staff. During his Four Corners interview, Glover claimed he was made a “scapegoat” when pressure mounted for the label to take action against Handlin’s alleged misconduct.
In a statement shared by Four Corners, a spokesperson from Sony Music Entertainment said: “We take all allegations of bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviour from our employees very seriously and investigate them vigorously.
“Only recently did claims surface and we are examining them expeditiously.”