Insights

Investors warn ASX 200 boards to stamp out sexual harassment

81% of companies don’t think directors are responsible for the way the company prevents and responds to poor workplace behaviour.
The post Investors warn ASX 200 boards to stamp out sexual harassment appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

Stock investors have put ASX 200 company boards on notice to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment in workplaces.

An Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) study released Thursday showed just 19% of S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) companies accepted that the board has primary accountability for fighting sexual harassment.

The research, commissioned by investor advocacy group Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), also showed just 19% of surveyed companies require directors to receive training on good governance and sexual harassment.

The shocking findings come after a rough 12 months among ASX 200 companies for their cultural response to sexual misbehaviour allegations.

AMP Ltd (ASX: AMP) infamously lost 2 board members over its handling of accusations against Boe Pahari, who was promoted to AMP Capital boss despite the cloud.

In September, QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE) suddenly sacked its chief executive after a complaint from a female employee.

Transparency was also a concern coming out of the study. Less than one-third of ASX 200 companies comply with ASX Corporate Governance Principles by reporting sexual harassment incidents to the market.

And 14% of them don’t ever report to any external party.

Companies that ignore harassment risk long-term damage

Harassment incidents are obviously traumatic for those involved. 

But there is also a massive cost to the company and its shareholders, according to ACSI chief Louise Davidson.

“There is plenty of evidence over recent times that companies that fail to appropriately manage this issue do significant damage,” she said. 

“Long term investors have an interest in ensuring the companies they invest in are well run, safe for their employees, and have culture that prevents and addresses workplace sexual harassment when it occurs.”

Workplace sexual harassment cost the Australian economy an estimated $3.8 billion in 2018, said AHRC sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins.

“Workplace sexual harassment causes immense social and economic harm.

“I welcome ACSI’s initiative in commissioning this survey and report, and their recognition of the critical role that ASX 200 boards and executive management have in preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment.”

8 ways companies and shareholders can all improve

The research identified 8 actions ASX 200 companies and investors could take to improve treatment of sexual harassment cases:

Ensure board has primary responsibility and accountability for harassment issues
Ensure companies have skills and experience to prevent and respond to incidents
Make gender equality a priority and set targets
Ensure systems and frameworks are in place to manage risks
Align appointment, expertise and performance management of CEO and executive team for leadership on sexual harassment issues
Report internally and externally
Investors should demand information on a company’s systems and processes
Investors should advocate for improved transparency on sexual harassment

The post Investors warn ASX 200 boards to stamp out sexual harassment appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

Wondering where you should invest $1,000 right now?

When investing expert Scott Phillips has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the flagship Motley Fool Share Advisor newsletter he has run for more than eight years has provided thousands of paying members with stock picks that have doubled, tripled or even more.*

Scott just revealed what he believes could be the five best ASX stocks for investors to buy right now. These stocks are trading at near dirt-cheap prices and Scott thinks they could be great buys right now.

*Returns as of May 24th 2021

More reading

Could investing in the ASX 300 be better than the ASX 200?

Are crashing ASX mining shares an opportunity or a disaster to run from?

Here are the 3 most active ASX 200 shares today

ASX share market fears ease as RBA’s inflation target proves difficult to hit

Did the US Federal Reserve just ring the inflation warning bell?

Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

Trade The World Anywhere & Anytime!

Mobile app platform with over 50,000 global listed securities across 12 markets (over 70% global market capitalisation), right from your Android or iOS device.

Integrated with exclusive trading idea and investment analysis tools to help you find actionable insight on virtually every financial instrument across our 12 global markets, to help you optimise your trading strategies.

Refer Your Friends

Tell your friends about Monex and gift them FREE access to our trading tools.

We respect your privacy and will only send this one email notification to your friends. 

Share With Your Friends

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Monex Trading Tools Access and Usage Terms

The Monex Trading Tools (referred to as ‘tools’ hereafter) are available to you inside your client portal;


To activate access to the tools, you must have a verified and approved trading account and have made a deposit of at least AUD $1000.


An active and funded account with a positive trading balance is required to continue to have access to the tools;


Although the tools are available to you indefinitely, Monex Securities may at it’s discretion disable access to the tools in the future;


Monex securities reserves the right to change these terms and conditions from time to time, as it sees fit, without notice.

Important Notice
iOS & Android App - 12 International Markets & Over 70% Global Market Cap. $0 Brokerage On US Trades. Click Here!