MediaWorks People and Culture Director Alex Nicholson resigns in wake of Maria Dew's workplace investigation

MediaWorks People and Culture Director Alex Nicholson has resigned in the wake of a damning independent investigation that revealed a "harmful 'Boys' Club' culture" in which sexual harassment, bullying and drug abuse was commonplace.

Her leaving the company has been announced just days after the company's board chair Jack Matthews also resigned.

"Alex Nicholson has resigned and will be leaving MediaWorks at the end of November," a MediaWorks spokesperson told Newshub.

"She will step away from the P&C Director role for the remainder of her time with MediaWorks, in order to focus on a plan to address the recommendations from the independent workplace review. 

"Alex has been key in setting up the strategic framework to deliver on the recommendations, and considers it necessary to have new leadership in P&C to execute the plan over the next two to three years. We will start an external search for a new P&C Director immediately."

The investigation carried out by Maria Dew QC was made public on August 4 after gathering data from over 480 current staff. It found that at least 22 percent of all participants had witnessed sexual harassment at MediaWorks and 18 percent of female participants had personally experienced sexual harassment.

"One of the most significant and consistent themes to come out of this review is that MediaWorks staff have had little faith in the ability of the People & Culture (P&C) team to deal effectively or confidentially with any complaints," the report stated.

"Many participants who had raised misconduct complaints over the past three years stated that they felt their complaint had been poorly handled by the P&C team. Some even reported being warned off raising any complaints and that members of the P&C team had expressed powerlessness in their role. As a result, front line staff and many managers report being wary of taking any concerns to the team, and they regard the Whistle Blower Policy as ineffective.

"The review survey results also confirmed the high level of concern with the P&C function. The lowest overall scores in the survey related to trust in P&C policies and procedures and low levels of trust in misconduct complaints being taken seriously or dealt with fairly."

Alex Nicholson leaving MediaWorks in wake of Maria Dew's damning workplace culture investigation.
Alex Nicholson. Photo credit: MediaWorks

In a statement released as the report was made public, MediaWorks CEO Cam Wallace apologised to the victims and committed to serious change.

"I would like to unreservedly apologise on behalf of MediaWorks to current and former staff for MediaWorks' failures over the past years to inadequately respond to complaints of misconduct, and for the harm that this has caused," he said.

Wallace said MediaWorks, which owned Newshub until it was sold to Discovery in 2020, would move forward on all 32 recommendations from the workplace review which give "clear direction for creating long-term change".