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Universal Music Australia Launches Investigation Into Workplace Culture

Universal Music Australia has launched an independent investigation following allegations of inappropriate behavior within its ranks.

The music giant’s affiliate in Sydney has tapped Darren Perry at law firm Seyfarth Shaw to conduct a probe into workplace culture, after a string of allegations emerged online and an internal complaint was lodged with HR, according to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Nathanael Cooper, who broke the story.

In an email to staff last Friday (Aug. 6), George Ash, president of Universal Music Australia & New Zealand, informed employees of the investigation and acknowledged the company “was aware of the allegations that had been published online, including an allegation that had been made about him,” the report notes.

“As the leader of this company I take full responsibility for creating a respectful workplace culture for everyone,” Ash wrote in the internal message, verified by Billboard. “With respect to my own behaviour, it is particularly painful to realise now that what I intended as jokes were unacceptable comments that made some of you uncomfortable.”

Those “unacceptable comments” were reportedly made during a Zoom call.

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Universal Music Australia is the second of Australia’s three majors to investigate conduct and cultural failures, as the MeToo movement gathers pace in these parts.

Sony Music Australia is conducting its own investigation. As previously reported, the affiliate’s longstanding CEO boss Denis Handlin was stood down in June and two other executives were let go.

Both music giants began to look inwards when details of bullying, harassment, assault and more began to emerge on Beneath The Glass Ceiling, an Instagram account which launched in 2020 to share “real life experiences working” in the Australian music industry. A separate account for the New Zealand industry went live in March 2020.

Ash is quoted in the SMH as being “heartbroken” by the allegations leveled against UMA, which include claims of bullying, harassment, racism, homophobia, discrimination, as well as more serious allegations of sexual assault, with many of those incidents apparently occurring on his watch.

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“My initial response was ‘I don’t know whether the allegations are true or not’ but it made me think we haven’t done enough and we need to do more in our company,” Ash told the SMH. “I need to step up and take responsibility.”

It’s understood Universal Music Group’s international department has become involved in this evolving situation.