Weta Digital has released an independent review into its workplace culture, following reports of sexual harassment and bullying (file photo).
A fractured, pigeonholed and siloed workplace at Weta Digital which favoured connections over merit resulted in a culture which needs to be overhauled, an independent review has found.
The review, lead by Miriam Dean, QC, was sparked following allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.
During her investigation, Dean received 80 complaints of bullying, and another 120 complaints of inappropriate conduct, either experienced or witnessed by the interviewees.
“I also received 19 complaints of sexual harassment ranging from inappropriate comments, such as sexual jokes or intrusive remarks about individuals’ sex lives, through to unwelcome touching and attention.”
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She found there was an undercurrent of sexism in parts of the company, with some staff members describing it as an “old boys club”.
Dean found Weta Digital was a fractured organisation, with as many as 56 distinct workplace cultures.
“Women were at a disadvantage in a work place where three-quarters of the workforce were men, resulting in few women in top-level positions, especially more artistic and technical ones.
Staff members told her the organisation was extremely hierarchical, leadership was scare, no one wanted to speak out about bad behaviour, and stress levels were high due to heavy workloads and long hours.
“The company’s workforce culture is not ‘toxic’, as media reports have suggested. But as my interviews and the survey results revealed, there is a problem in pockets of the organisation, and it has manifested in the complaints I was asked to examine.”
“The company’s culture needs significant improvement, some departments and realms more so than others. To be fair, I was told some of the same problems with its culture can be found in other visual effects companies and in the screen industry more generally.
“Turning around the ship need not be a difficult or lengthy task. Far from it. Many of my recommendations can be acted on quickly and will produce immediate results. Others will take a little longer to bear fruit. The result, I have no doubt, will eventually be a grown-up organisation that is likely to attract more work, be more cost-efficient and have crew who feel safe, trusted and respected.”
She said current policies and processes were not safeguarding staff from bullying, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and other inappropriate conduct.
“I discerned a dislike at senior levels of processes and policies, which are regarded as stifling creativity, and this has led to HR receiving insufficient management support to perform effectively.”
Dean made 17 recommendations, including overhauling the workplace culture; developing a code of conduct; restructuring the organisation, conducting a health and safety audit; expanding the diversity and inclusion programme; starting a women-in-leadership programme; and improving reporting, monitoring and auditing at all levels.
Weta Digital chief executive Prem Akkaraju said in a statement the company had learned a great deal from thew review.
“We will be working through the implementation of the recommendations in Miriam Dean’s report.”
Founders Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Fran Walsh said staff had been an integral part of the ongoing success of the company.
“Please be assured we will be working with the other owners and Prem to action the recommendations and build the culture Weta Digital needs to maintain its status as a leader in the industry.”
Published at Tue, 22 Dec 2020 19:11:00 +0000