Senate Economics Committee chair, Tim Wilson, has queried the Australia Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) on its double standard over sexual harassment and whether IFM Investor’s membership has been a factor over why they haven’t been held to account like AMP has been.
In July, ACSI invited Boe Pahari accuser, Julia Szlakowski, to address its conference regarding the allegations and the of impact poor corporate governance, although Wilson did not point to this example specifically.
AMP was not a member of ACSI, while IFM was and was owned by Industry Super Holdings, which was owned by industry super funds who were also members of ACSI.
Wilson said: “You were very critical of AMP when there were issues around sexual harassment is that a fair assessment?” which Louise Davidson, ACSI chief executive, agreed.
“[On IFM] Did you say anything about that, in terms of sexual harassment around the allegations made in IFM investors which alleged to have led to a pay-out [worth] tens of millions of dollars?”
Davidson said: “No we were critical of AMP in our capacity, in terms of our focus on them as a listed company… that issue didn’t arise in respect to IFM.
“We were focused on AMP because they are a listed company and our remit is to deal with ESG [environmental, social and governance] matters with listed companies.”
Wilson said: “But it would be fair to say IFM is a member [of ACSI] and in addition to that, most of [IFM’s] owners are members of ACSI, but it didn’t find it’s voice on sexual harassment allegations.”
Szlakowski’s address at the conference highlighted how lack of proper corporate culture can destroy a company, a sentiment echoed by Davidson at the hearing.
“We have only commented on sexual harassment matters as they pertain to listed companies because we see them as a potential destroyer of value in those companies,” Davidson said.
Wilson said: “Right, but you wouldn’t tolerate sexual harassment in your workplace I assume, Ms Davidson?” which Davison replied, “Indeed not”.