News: Boss called out for speech over worker's death

Life @ Work

Boss called out for speech over worker's death

The tragic death of an EY auditor has opened up discussions on supposedly toxic work cultures.
Boss called out for speech over worker's death

The CEO of financial services firm EY (Ernst and Young) is getting flak from his employees for his alleged insensitivity toward the death of their colleague.

In a town hall meeting with staff, CEO David Larocca delivered a speech that addressed the recent passing of senior auditor Aishwarya Venkatachalam. 

The 27-year-old EY employee was found dead on 27 August at one of the company’s Sydney offices. Police did not investigate her death as suspicious and believed that self-harm may have been involved. 

“We had a really difficult week, made even more distressing for many by the reporting in the press,” Larocca said. “Our entire focus has been on supporting everyone impacted by this, starting with her family, everyone at EY that’s been directly impacted, and our broader EY community.”

Read more: How to handle a toxic boss

Larocca spent four minutes of his speech talking about Venkatachalam’s passing. However, several workers in attendance believed the CEO failed to properly address the incident. Some even thought their boss was “insensitive” toward their colleague’s tragic death.

A senior EY employee described it as an “epic failure of leadership [that] has left many staff utterly dejected”.

Troubled employment

Following Venkatachalam’s death, her friend Neeti Bish revealed to the media that Venkatachalam had been suffering apparent bullying and racism at her workplace. She said Venkatachalam told her about her experiences back in April. 

“She mentioned how mean some of her colleagues were,” Bish said. “I think things had just started to brew then … [some of] her colleagues and the racist angle was at play here.”

Read more: Back off, bully! How to stand up to office bullying

It is still unclear whether the supposed workplace bullying and racism accusation had a role in Venkatachalam’s death. However, the incident opened up widespread discussions about the toxic culture at Australian workplaces.

In a statement, Larocca said EY has launched a “comprehensive and wide-ranging internal review” involving health and safety, security, and social events related to its staff. 

The EY CEO added that they will also look at the security and safety of the company’s premises and how their employees work. This will include reviewing how workers connect at social events and the mental health and well-being support that EY provides staff.



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Topics: Life @ Work, #Culture

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