Major drama erupts at ABC as new boss BANNS the office beer fridge – leaving some of the network’s biggest stars furious
- Michelle Ainsworth, new ABC Canberra boss, announced a move to ditch the fridge
- She told ABC political staff fridge was no longer consistent with the company’s values
- However, the ABC’s political editor Andrew Probyn was left ‘in disbelief’ at the decision
Stars at ABC reacted with fury after new bosses removed the office beer fridge because it no longer aligned with the company’s values.
Michelle Ainsworth, the ABC’s new Canberra bureau chief, told staff at a newsroom meeting at 10 that the refrigerator was removed.
Ms Ainsworth informed senior staff that the fridge was no longer appropriate following a review in 2021 by Gender Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.
The review called on Parliament to adopt alcohol policies “aimed at limiting availability”.
However, some staff were less than impressed with the decision, with ABC political editor Andrew Probyn leaving ‘in disbelief’ and leading the opposition, according to the Australian one.
Some staff were less than impressed with the decision, with ABC political editor Andrew Probyn left “in disbelief”
Michelle Ainsworth, the ABC’s new Canberra bureau chief, told staff at a newsroom meeting at 10 that the refrigerator was removed
He is believed to have been the only person who openly criticized the decision to ditch the beer fridge.
However, another ABC star later revealed that they believed the move to ditch what they saw as a ‘harmless’ tradition was ‘overkill’.
Others are also believed to have opposed the decision.
Despite the dissent, Ms Ainsworth plowed ahead with the move and sent a follow-up email to staff.
“It compromises our reporting on the culture of this building if we’re still running a beer fridge… It’s no longer acceptable to drink alcohol in the office these days.”
Ms Jenkins’ report last year, based on contributions from 1,700 people, found that more than half of parliamentary staff had experienced at least one incident of bullying, sexual harassment or actual or attempted sexual assault at work.
The report included damning anecdotes from anonymous attendees, one of whom said it was the ‘most sexist’ place they had ever worked.
Ms Ainsworth informed senior staff that the fridge was no longer appropriate following a review in 2021 by Gender Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins
‘I suspect there is a drinking culture in the workplace. There is not much accountability. The boys are boys. And that behavior is celebrated and… they treat women, our female employees and female administrators, completely differently,’ said the interviewee.
On Tuesday, Ms Jenkins spoke about the drinking culture in Parliament.
Speaking at the Chief Executive Women conference in Melbourne, she said the presence of alcohol in the workplace was a significant risk factor for abuse.
“We need to remember that the main drivers of sexual harassment are power imbalances, gender inequality, lack of accountability and lack of diversity,” Ms Jenkins said.
“However, alcohol is often at play as a risk factor that affects individuals.
‘We have heard about the pressure to drink, to network. We have heard from women about their specific decision not to attend a place where alcohol may be present, but also the fact that rumors [followed] them, whatever they did … quite different from the men.’