Overview of the session
Thanks to all that joined the round table discussion on Tuesday 23 May, hosted by Thomson Geer and co-facilitated by Shirli Kirschner from Elker and Jacquie Seemann from Thomson Geer. Industry leaders came together to discuss the importance of keeping all people within, and associated with, our organisations safe, and able to seek support if required.
The session gave an overview of Respect@Work changes and a framework for how leaders can respond to the changes with specific focus on sexual misconduct.
“My favourite learning from Jacquie Seemann is that leaders working with both software and lawyers can create a holistic approach which moves beyond tick-box surface-level compliance to best practice.” – Shirli Kirschner
Some key takeaways from our conversation
- The new policy takes a victim focused approach and considers intersectionality. It’s crucial for organizations to examine potential issues from this perspective.
- Simply reducing risk is no longer sufficient. Employers are now expected to shift from a reactive to a proactive stance and go beyond having policies in place.
- As times have changed, so should our approach to leadership. We need top teams to model good behaviour and managers with strong people skills, such as listening and empathy, to create safe work environments. To reinforce this behaviour, it can be linked to key performance indicators (KPIs) and bonuses.
- We all agreed that the policy is a positive step towards a safer workplace, but implementing it effectively can be complex. We discussed practical strategies, including a 7-element framework to manage it.
Thank you to all participants who contributed their valuable insights and experiences during the round table discussion. We will be holding a few more of these sessions over the coming weeks, if this is of interest to you please get in touch and we will share further opportunities.
About the Presenters
Shirli Kirschner is the co-founder of Elker a digital platform for speaking up safely. She has a background as a dispute system designer, accredited mediator, Visiting senior fellow at UNSW Law and sessional registrar at The Federal Circuit Court (Industrial list). She has held several non-executive directorships in the not-for-profit space, has won a number of industry awards in dispute system design and mediation and is listed in Who’s Who for Mediation. Shirli started her career as a lawyer at a large law firm.
Jacquie Seemann is a partner in Thomson Geer’s Employment and Safety team. She has practised in this area since 1990, with a special emphasis on discrimination, harassment and other equity issues. Jacquie’s experience spans a wide range of industries, and she has been acknowledged for her work in employment law by The Legal 500, Doyle’s Guide and Best Lawyers in Australia for many years. She takes pride in developing and delivering documents and training materials that help clients apply legal concepts and obligations to real life workplaces.