Over the weekend, 26 year-old Ebonie Sanderson, publicly shared audio messages she received from a man named Tom in which she was berated and abused, labelled a “disgusting fat pig” after she declined to meet him for sex.
On Instagram she suggested that the behaviour was what “happens when you say NO or call out a man for being disrespectful!!!”
“I’m entitled to change my mind and tell someone I’m not interested anymore because I feel uncomfortable and intimidated by ones aggressive and forceful nature,” she added.
Alongside her post were the audio messages she said had come from the man after she rejected him, including:
“You’re actually a fat f***ing pig. You know that? Thanks. You did waste my time,” and:
“You’re f***ing ugly. Your a** looks OKAY and you would have been one f**k. You would have been just one f**k because you’re a disgusting fat pig.”
He also allegedly sent a written message that read: “Cya you ugly, fat, time wasting wh*re.”
Sanderson’s post gained quick momentum, shared by thousands of women across social media including prominent feminist and journalist, Clementine Ford.
Within a matter of hours the news had landed with the man’s employer, logistics firm Invenco. Rather than sit on the news, the company’s CEO Dave Scott issued an immediate statement saying the employee in question had been sacked, adding that he felt “shocked and disgusted” by his behaviour.
“I was shocked and disgusted to hear the disrespect and entitlement towards women appear in the recordings and messages attached to the Instagram post,” he wrote on Facebook Sunday night.
“I strongly reject any behaviour of this kind, at any time, in any place, for any reason. There is no excuse that makes this OK – ever.”
“As soon as I heard the recordings and saw the images, I instantly determined this as an act of serious misconduct,” Scott added.
“The awareness of this act rendered Thomas McGuirk as unsuitable for continuing employment with Invenco, and I terminated his employment effective immediately at 8.53am on Saturday morning.”
Having only been employed by the company for six weeks before he was let go, Scott stated that the accused would “not have been hired” if the company had been privy to the “serious misalignment in core values”.
Tinder took the same approach, shutting down the man’s profile immediately.
This kind of decisive action isn’t something women are overly familiar with. Too often, victims of sexual harassment or assault are faced with the opposite equation. If they come forward, their allegations are routinely ignored or covered up. This is so often the case that many women fear speaking up altogether.
We only need to turn our gaze to recent events at AMP, where the misconduct of a senior male executive Boe Pahari, was ignored despite a young female employee’s emphatic accusations that he’d crossed the line.
Julia Szlakowski’s accusations were made in 2017, but rather than take action to reprimand the man who harassed her at the time, AMP did the opposite and promoted him. After three years, and the sexual harassment case blowing up publicly, Boe Pahari was only recently stood down.
Of course, this is just one example in a long line of similar cases. Look anywhere you want in corporate Australia and this systemic culture of cover-ups thrives.
And it’s a hard one to disentangle and dismantle once it exists. It’s why so many organisations are scrambling to implement diversity and inclusion policies, including sexual harassment and human rights training for their workforces. Such policies are helpful, but they’re indicative of a “long-game” approach. There’s no quick fix when it comes to male entitlement.
That’s why the response by Invenco’s boss is so reassuring. Opting to move hard and fast in his condemnation and sacking of the employee accused, Dave Scott proved he was prepared to break the mould.
For victims of sexual harassment or assault like Ebonie Sanderson, this kind of allegiance is powerful. We need more male bosses to stand up and do the same.