October 23, 2021

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Sony Music executives were aware of Dennis Handlin’s abusive behavior

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More than two decades before Sony Music’s top executives resigned earlier this year, the company’s long-running Australian head, Dennis Handlin, warned of abusive behavior, according to a detailed report from the country’s Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired on Sunday.

Handlin – one of the most powerful executives in the country’s music business, who was also chairman of the Australian Recording Industry Association and an officer of the Order of Australia – and four top Sony executives left the company earlier this year. Strict report called “Binoth the Glass Ceiling”.

Although much of the information in Sunday’s report was previously reported, many of the details were new, including a Sony internal parody video of Handlin dressed as Adolf Hitler, where he proudly rasped the company’s aggressive culture.

A report on ABC’s “Four Corners” show states that Handlin’s behavior was reported to New York’s top Sony music executives in 1998, for which he was suspended for some time but then reinstated and became even more abusive. Once upon a time Sony Music was led by Tommy Motola; Sony Music has undergone a number of leadership changes in the intervening years, with current chairman Rob Stringer leading in 2017.

Contacted by Diversity, A Sony representative sent the following statement on Monday: “We take all allegations of rape, harassment and other misconduct from our employees very seriously and investigate them vigorously. Claims have surfaced recently and we are examining them quickly. We are not in a position to comment further on the allegations of things that happened 20 years ago, especially since the people involved at the time are no longer in the company. As much as these issues have been raised, Sony Music is reviewing them. ”

While delegates declined to comment further, a source within the company insisted that top executives at Sony Music had not received any further reports of abusive behavior at the Australian office earlier this year. In late June, Stringer announced that Handlin had resigned on June 25 after 51 years at the company, of which 37 were chief executives and chairman.

However, according to the report, the abusive culture that Handlin instilled in the company – aspects of which were pervasive in the country’s music industry – was widely known throughout the Australian company and industry. Citing interviews with more than 100 current and former Sony employees as part of an investigation into decades of systematic bullying, discrimination and abuse at the company under Handlin’s toxic rule, Four Corners claims that “the company’s global headquarters has known about the alleged abuse but Failed to protect workers.

“That’s what’s bothering most of us,” Alan Terry, former finance director at Sony Music Australia, told Handlin’s second-in-command. [Sony] New York said, ‘Oh, we found out about this problem, it just got published’, Terry said. That’s Hogwash’s burden.

Terry said the company’s top executives were regularly assembled and humiliated by Handlin. “His day-to-day dealings with people were at the executive level, so they were people who really dealt with abuse and toxic behavior,” he said. “Occasionally, he would bring some low-key minis to board meetings and destroy them in front of his superiors. But it was exposed to everyone, no one escaped. ”

Eleanor, a longtime company executive, told Mack he had seen widespread harassment. “The best thing I could say about Dennis was that he was an abuser of equal opportunity,” he said. “He was as close to men as he was to women.”

However, Matthew McQueed, another executive, former senior manager, said the company’s workplace tolerates “Ladish language” and objects to women.

“I was standing with Dennis and he started making sexual comments about an employee I hired … breasts, body, that kind of thing,” McQueed said. Four Corners said it had confirmed that at least seven women had been laid off while on maternity leave for a six-year period until 2013; Everyone was given a cash settlement.

In a statement at the “Four Corners”, Handlin said, “I have always supported and encouraged women to champion diversity in the industry and personally. I will never tolerate inappropriate or discriminatory treatment of women. I’m sure it has been shut down and will not happen again. “

Greg Lockhart, head of human resources, told Four Corners that he reported on Handlin’s behavior at Sony Music’s worldwide headquarters in New York in the 1990s, but his concerns were ignored until June 1998, when a visiting U.S. executive also reported Handlin’s behavior. Following a request from the Global Office, three other executives, including Lockhart and Terry, wrote a report that read in part, “Working for Dennis means you will not work for Sony Music. You are not a director or manager: you are a servant ‘rewarded’ as long as you Serves her, and only her purpose. Life revolves entirely around Dennis and the ‘culture’ of his personality, “the report said.

The report includes “common, everyday events” involving Handlin:

He swears every day

Screams and rapes go into frequent outbursts of anger

Set out to purposefully destroy people for power

Insults the staff in meetings regularly

Enjoys intimidating employees

Women cannot be considered equal

Two pages of the report were devoted to concerns about Handlin’s drinking habits, including that he was “extremely offensive and aggressive to Sony employees and others under the influence of alcohol.”

How Lockhart instructed Handlin to dismiss people for “not looking at her”, “not liking anyone’s physical appearance” or “getting pregnant”. “The level of Dennis’ obsession with complete control was such that I was instructed to keep staff by personal detectives at dozens of different times, ”Lockhart wrote.

Handlin was suspended and flew to New York with 10 Australian executives for interviews about their experience, but three months later Handlin returned to his post – for another two decades. Nine of the 10 executives involved in the allegations at Sony’s head office left the Australian company within four years.

Lockhart said he was unsure by senior management’s claims of ignorance about Handlin’s behavior and the culture of the Australian company.

“They should just say, ‘Oh, we found out about it a month or two ago,’ it’s just unimaginable,” he said.

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