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Former Sony Music Australia boss Denis Handlin stripped of third award over toxic workplace culture allegations

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

The former Sony Music Australia boss Denis Handlin has been stripped of another award, the third to be revoked in the wake of allegations aired by the ABC last week about a toxic workplace environment, including bullying and intimidation, while he was chief executive.

On Monday, the Australian performing rights and copyright agency Apra Amcos announced it was revoking Handlin’s 2009 Ted Albert award for outstanding services to Australian music.

Related: Aria revokes former Sony Music boss Denis Handlin’s icon award

“Apra Amcos is committed to fostering a music industry that upholds a high level of professional respect and conduct, and does not condone any form of bullying,” the statement from the agency said.

“Every single participant in our music industry has a responsibility to act safely and respect others. We recognise and accept there’s still much work to do in this space. We are committed to making the decisions that need to be made and to working with the broader industry so that we can collectively bring about this shift in culture.”

His Aria icon and QMusic honorary awards were also revoked last week.

Handlin has faced months of allegations of allowing a toxic workplace environment to exist at Sony Australia as its chief executive for the past 37 years.

On 21 June, the company’s head office in New York sacked him on the same day Guardian Australia published its investigation into complaints by former Sony Australia employees about a toxic workplace culture, including allegations of bullying, intimidation, alcohol abuse and discrimination at Sony Music Australia while Handlin was at the helm.

On 11 October the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast its own investigation into Handlin and the multinational recording company.

In 2005 Handlin was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). In 2017 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (OA).

Related: Revealed: multiple allegations of toxic culture at Sony Music Australia as CEO Denis Handlin leaves

A statement provided by Council of the Order of Australia to the music industry publication The Music Network last week said “unanimous approval is not a criteria” for the awards, and the council did not comment on individual nominations or appointments.

Last year, the chairman of the council issued a statement after calls for Bettina Arndt and Mike Carlton to be stripped of their AMs.

“For the order to be brought into disrepute a conviction, penalty or adverse finding must have occurred,” the statement said.

“In essence, the council recognises that the law prescribes behaviours and expressions, which are abhorrent to society and therefore uses law as the threshold for termination and cancellation.”

In response to the Guardian Australia investigation, Sony Music Entertainment in New York provided the following statement in June: “We take all allegations from our employees very seriously and investigate them vigorously … … harassment, bullying and other inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated by Sony Music at any of our companies and we are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful workplace for our employees. Given our ongoing inquiries, we cannot comment further.”

Guardian Australia contacted Handlin for comment.

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