Worklogic director Jodie Fox talks to The West Australian about the potential power imbalance that can occur in relationships between colleagues.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan remained silent today on the turmoil engulfing Richmond after the Tigers’ premiership coach Damien Hardwick’s relationship with a female colleague was revealed.
Richmond has said the relationship between Hardwick and Alexandra Crow, a member of the club’s commercial sales team, is a private matter that does not breach its human resources policies.
But senior figures at the club are believed to have raised concerns about similarities to relationships that led to the resignations of former AFL executives Simon Lethlean and Richard Simkiss in 2017.
Mr Lethlean, a football operations manager, had an affair with young Sydney-based AFL staffer Maddi Blomberg.
And Mr Simkiss, a corporate business manager, had an affair with AFL legal counsel Ali Gronow.
At the time, Mr McLachlan said the pair had admitted to “inappropriate relationships with younger women that work in the AFL industry”.
When a spokesman for Mr McLachlan was contacted today he refused to comment on the Richmond matter.
Other senior Richmond figures have defended Hardwick, saying he was not in direct authority over his partner.
Richmond said in a statement this week the club was aware that coach Damien Hardwick was in a relationship with a member of the club’s administration staff.
“The club has no concerns with this under club policy,” it said.
“Beyond this, it is a private matter and we ask that privacy be respected.”
The toll of Hardwick’s recent split from wife Danielle is starting to show, with the mother of three posting a telling meme on Tuesday after his new relationship became public.
The post, which attracted many supportive comments, said: “F… every single person that took advantage of your kindness and mistook it for weakness.”
Jodie Fox, a director at Melbourne-based firm Worklogic, said while there was nothing wrong with workplace romances, problems could arise if there was a significant imbalance of power.
“The problem with someone like Damien Hardwick is he’s got such a high profile, that even though this particular woman might not report to him directly, he has such a big influence in the club there still may be that power imbalance that might have a conflict of interest between his romantic life and her employment life,” she said.
Ms Fox said while people’s private lives were not Richmond’s business, it had to make sure the professional work of the club was not impacted negatively by the relationship because of any perception of a conflict of interest.
“I don’t think the club is doing the wrong thing by saying we can manage it, because that’s what any organisation faced with this sort of situation needs to be able to do,” she said.