“Our culture may have been tested”: Mecca

Beauty retail giant Mecca has admitted that work needs to be done in response to bullying and harassment claims from employees, and has set up services and an independent review to improve the business and support staff.

The claims were brought to light by an anonymous beauty collective on social media called @esteelaundry, which aims to hold businesses accountable for their actions. Reports from current and former staff ranged from racism and discrimination to underpayment, nepotism and favouritism. 

Mecca has now addressed these claims, publishing a statement in the careers section of its website detailing how the business will handle the issues moving forward.

“Mecca has grown exponentially in the last five years and we acknowledge that, despite all of our best endeavours, our culture may have been tested,” said the statement.

An independent HR consultant has been brought in to review the business and make recommendations, while a “listening tour” has commenced, where staff are encouraged to offer feedback about their experiences individually or in group sessions. 

A service called Stopline has been set up for all staff who wish to call and make complaints. Meanwhile, the brand’s ‘Respect in the Workplace’ program, which covers diversity, inclusion, bullying and harassment, has been brought forward so the majority of staff will undergo training this year.

The statement also offers advice for employees on how they can report any issues, such as approaching the head of HR and national HR lead. If they wish, staff can also access the business’ free and confidential 24/7 Employee Assistance counselling service, where they can speak to a trained professional over the phone or in some circumstances, in person.

“We have had a very low rate of bullying complaints (0.2 per cent of our workforce have made a bullying complaint in the past two years, versus a retail industry average of 7 per cent and a transport/storage/distribution centre industry average of 15 per cent),” the statement said. “Each of these complaints were thoroughly investigated and appropriate action was taken in all cases.”

According to Georgie Chapman from HR Legal, similar independent reviews are becoming more common, especially in the current climate, as widespread allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour are brought to light.

“Having an independent workplace review conducted can be an effective mechanism to establish the basis of cultural problems, and therefore represents a robust response by Mecca, assuming the outcome of the review is addressed appropriately,” she told Inside Retail.

The Young Workers Centre in Victoria is also currently looking into the allegations made against Mecca.

Since the business launched more than 20 years ago, Mecca has grown to more than 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand with more than 4000 staff. Mecca has been named as one of the Great Places to Work in Australia several times, while CEO Jo Horgan was named EY Australian Entrepreneur of the Year last year.

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