‘Insidious’: Sexual harassment, bullying exposed at Chevron

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Chevron Australia has apologised after it was revealed almost half of its employees had experienced bullying and about one in three had been subjected to sexual harassment in the past five years.

The damning 98-page report by consultancy firm Intersection found bullying was the most prevalent inappropriate behaviour, with 47 per cent of employees experiencing some form.

Belittling or humiliating conduct, repeated undermining of work and sustained unjustified criticism were the main issues.

Sexual harassment – including sexually suggestive comments or jokes, and intrusive questions about a person’s private life or appearance – affected 30 per cent of employees.

Other forms of harassment, such as malicious rumours, and sexist or racist comments, were experienced by 29 per cent of staff.

Discrimination was experienced by two per cent of employees, but it was suggested the true figure could be higher.

The report found bullying was the most prevalent inappropriate behaviour, with 47 per cent of employees experiencing some form.The report found bullying was the most prevalent inappropriate behaviour, with 47 per cent of employees experiencing some form.

Women reported experiencing these behaviours at higher rates than men.

“Female employees experience all forms of inappropriate workplace behaviours at greater rates than men,” the report read.

“Casual sexism and being held to a different standard to men are common experiences for women at Chevron Australia.”

One woman said she was not believed when she made a complaint, describing it as “very distressing”.

“I believe that managers at Chevron continue to disbelieve the prevalence and insidiousness of sexism,” she said.

“I believe that most of the senior men I work with would be absolutely and deeply shocked if they heard that I had actually been physically molested during business hours in the office, and would genuinely find it difficult to believe it happened.”

Another employee said they could recall hundreds of conversations where women were belittled.

“From their ratings of the attractiveness of female colleagues, to Facebook-searching new starters for bikini photos, to spreading rumours of who has apparently slept with who, to commenting on who would be good in bed … to being hit on while going through a maintenance procedure,” they said.

“It’s lewd, entitled, disgusting and, sadly, accepted behaviour.”

Others said their clothing and underwear had been removed from laundries.

“I have had my underwear go missing. I can’t walk into the wet mess without being leered at. I have been followed to my room,” one woman said.

Chevron Australia managing director Mark Hatfield has apologised. Picture: Eric MyerChevron Australia managing director Mark Hatfield has apologised. Picture: Eric Myer

However, only a quarter of employees who had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination, and 10 per cent of employees who had experienced sexual harassment, had reported their most recent incident.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe, respected and included when they come to work,” Chevron Australia managing director Mark Hatfield said in a statement on Tuesday.

“To anyone who has experienced inappropriate behaviour within our workplaces, I am truly sorry.

“What is clear is that bullying, harassment and discrimination occurs in our workplaces, and not everyone feels confident in reporting these incidents through the various channels available.

“I would like to sincerely thank everyone who came forward to share their experiences.

“We accept the report and are determined to take meaningful action so our workplaces are safe, respectful and inclusive for everyone.”

The report made 24 recommendations, including uplifting leadership accountability and improving the response to reports of inappropriate behaviours.

Almost 570 employees and contractors in WA participated in a survey.

It comes after a WA parliamentary inquiry into the fly-in, fly-out industry released in June found sexual harassment was “generally accepted or overlooked”.

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