Domain Group executive chairman Nick Falloon has fronted staff to assure them complaints of bad behaviour would be investigated thoroughly after allegations parts of the workplace functioned as a “boys’ club” under former chief executive Antony Catalano.
Mr Falloon spoke to Melbourne and Sydney employees on Thursday afternoon about the upcoming review of its workplace, which was promised after the publication of an article in the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday. The article quoted an unnamed manager describing its Melbourne operations as “like working in an office in the 1980s”.
Mr Catalano announced his surprise departure from the company in late-January, saying he was unwilling to make his family relocate from Sydney to Melbourne.
In two separate staff-wide meetings, the first via video link to Melbourne, Mr Falloon said the review would be conducted by an independent external company and would allow staff to participate on an anonymous basis.
The unidentified external company that will undertake the review is expected to determine its scope and process, with little detail provided in the meeting about how it would be conducted.
The Sydney team was encouraged to support their Melbourne colleagues and to raise concerns with human resources.
One staff member in Sydney asked about when there would be a new chief executive, with Mr Falloon saying the global search was “ongoing”.
Mr Falloon is also the chairman of Fairfax Media, publisher of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review. Fairfax holds a 60 per cent stake in Domain.
On the condition of anonymity, former and current staff members after the meeting said they hoped the review would address the broader cultural problems in the Melbourne office.
The reactions were different depending on the department employees worked in and their location.
“The company has grown up but the Melbourne office hasn’t,” one employee said.
“There’s a perceptible difference from the Melbourne to the Sydney office”.
Some Sydney employees were “shocked” and “surprised”, saying the culture was different at Domain’s Pyrmont office.
Another employee was happy with how the situation had been handled by upper management, saying the message was that it is “keen for change”.