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Mecca launches investigation into its own culture of bullying, discrimination

Mecca Hobart. (Source: Popsugar)

Beauty giant Mecca, which employs 4,000 staff across its 100 stores, will launch an investigation into its own culture after current and former staff claimed they experienced bullying, discrimination and favouritism.

An Instagram post by anonymous Instagram account @esteelaundry, which acts as a sort of vigilante watchdog in the beauty industry, said: “We’ve received an overwhelming number of DMs [direct messages] from employees and customers claiming that they are bullied and discriminated against for being not skinny, Caucasian and/or not fitting the ‘Mecca look’.”

“We’ve always heard stories about discrimination in Australia, but these stories take it to a new level.”

Current and former Mecca employees have revealed that their employment experience with the beauty brand was very different to the public image of being a great workplace.

Former Mecca worker Narita Salima said she was bullied by managers over small matters, and often in front of customers.

“It was traumatic. That whole Mecca culture, that positive workplace, it's just so fake,” she told SMH.

Another former employee, who worked for the brand for 2.5 years told Pedestrian.tv that the bullying made her anxiety worse.

@esteelaundry published an internal email sent out to Mecca staff by the company’s head of retail that said it was “taking this feedback very seriously”.

“Treating all of our colleagues and customers with the utmost respect is very important, and we ask that you keep this guiding principle in mind always.”

The internal email also gave staff pointers on how to respond to customers who had questions on the matter.

Mecca apologises

The company’s CEO, Jo Horgan, also said in a company-wide email that she was “deeply saddened” to learn that “some people haven’t had this experience [of a positive work environment]” and that she was “truly listening”.

“There is no room in our business for bullying or discrimination of any kind,” she wrote.

“Based on the feedback we have had, what we are doing is either not enough or it’s not working effectively enough.”

“Certainly, I want MECCA to be a place where people can learn, thrive, feel empowered, be fulfilled and be happy.”

In a public statement, Mecca apologised for failing staff.

“For the past 22 years, our mission has been to go above and beyond to ensure all our team members have a positive experience.

“To anyone for whom this hasn’t been the case, we’re truly sorry,” the statement read.

“We’re treating all of the issues raised seriously. We recognise that there are always things we can, and will, do better to ensure we continue to be one of the top places to work in Australia and New Zealand.”

Mecca launches review of internal culture

The brand will take three steps to address the bullying claims, including additional feedback channels for staff members; additional training; and an independent review of the company culture.

“We have engaged an independent HR consultant to complete an objective review of our culture to build on what’s working well and address anything that needs to change,” it said.

“This review has commenced with a listening tour, where all our team members have been invited to provide feedback in group sessions or one-on-one about their experiences in the workplace.”

Mecca has been named as a top workplace for the last six years, according to the Great Place to Work survey.

The company turned over $444.4 million in revenue in 2018, up 20 per cent from the year before.

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