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Nervous EY staff await review ‘in weeks’

By Philip King | |5 minute read

The firm says it will release the findings of an independent report as employee concerns over safety increase.

The findings of a review into the suicide of an EY employee last August are due “within weeks” the firm says as staff increasingly share concerns about safety in the absence of any news.

A source told HR Leader's sister brand Accountants Daily “EY staff were quietly agitating” about the report and some “felt unsafe not knowing what had happened”.

Audit and assurance specialist Aishwarya Venkatachalam fell from an 11th floor terrace on August 27 last year following a work event and questions soon emerged about the demands placed on EY staff.   


Following the death, consultancy Elizabeth Broderick & Co was commissioned to conduct an independent assessment of workplace culture at EY Oceania and staff are now becoming impatient to learn the findings.

“The review will identify what is working well, areas for improvement, and actions that EY Oceania can take to continue to promote a safe, inclusive and respectful work environment – an environment where all people are empowered to speak out if they see or experience harmful behaviour,” the Broderick website says.

The Broderick review is just one of at least three inquiries into the fatal event, including an internal review. An EY spokesperson said the firm remained committed to making the Broderick report public but had been advised not to comment in the interim.

“We’ll publish the outcomes,” said spokesperson Melanie Kent. “It’s taking some time and will be within the next few weeks.”

“The advice we’ve been given is that it’s best not to comment until we get the reports.”

“There’s been a lot of internal engagement with the Broderick review and there’s been really high engagement from our people.”

“We're really, really happy that people have been willing to share their views and their stories and their opinions. Obviously there’s been interim discussions with the people doing the reviews, but there hasn’t been anything finalised yet.”

“But certainly we have been on the record to say that we will be public when they happen.”

Ms Kent said staff had been reassured about progress.

“I think that there's been quite a lot of internal engagement in terms with staff on where the reviews are at.

“It's a really, really difficult and awkward time for everyone.

“And we are working to make sure that we get really good results, really good outcomes.

“We are working really hard to address all of the issues that have been raised and to take to make sure that we come out with something that's going to look after our people.”

The internal review included a survey asking people “about their experience working at the firm” and the spokesperson said staff safety was always a priority.

“We’re always concerned about staff safety. We will always take the safety and wellbeing of our people as an utmost priority,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ll take any expressions of concern really seriously and do our best to address them.”

The spokeswoman declined to offer any information about the conduct of the survey or internal review or whether either would be made public.

“I can only really talk specifically to the external review.”

One source said the mood at EY had also been influenced by the recent failure of plans to split the firm into separate audit and consultancy arms, with concerns that job losses would follow.

The failed project cost $US600 million and the US division, which blocked the plan, quickly announced it would slash around 3,000 jobs while the UK division put its staff on notice of cuts.

In the wake of the news, Australian lead partners were told to draw up lists of staff for “performance management” but the firm denied it had any job cut plans.

“They say no redundancies here but trust levels are pretty low given the lack of transparency,” a senior staffer said.

This article was originally published on HR Leader's sister brand Accountants Daily.