The Independent reports today that following ETC CEO Philip Rizzo’s blatantly sexist comments on Facebook directed at one of his managers he has banned Facebook use “for senior management”.
The reason apparently is that according to Minister Bartolo:
he is not a sexist person and that he respects his colleagues and, in fact, I think from his perspective he thought he was passing a compliment.
There are two types of sexism. There is the blatant in your face kind where an employer might ask for sexual favours (at worst) and then there is the kind where the offender “meant no harm, was making a joke, and in fact thought he was passing a compliment”.
In many cases the latter is worse particularly if the person in question is a publicly appointed official in a senior position and responsible for employment and training.
Banning the use of Facebook is actually a terrible thing from a transparency point of view because it simply puts the problem behind closed doors. Nothing is actually changing: the Minister is simply asking his top officials to “not have this sort of presence on Facebook”. The implication being that its fine to do it elsewhere, say at the water cooler, in a staff meeting, or in setting national policy — just not in public.
While the correct course of action should have clearly been to dismiss Mr Rizzo, failing that Mr Bartolo could have at least opted to:
- Issue a stern warning that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable by any government employee, on or off Facebook.
- Launch an investigation into the matter to determine whether this attitude is prevalent among ETC management.
- Mandate that Mr Rizzo (and possibly other senior staff) attend a sexual harassment training course or similar.
But perhaps that’s too much for “the most feminist government ever“.