AHA Blog Image Header From toxic culture to respect at work

Moving from Toxic Culture to Respect at Work

This article was contributed by Femeconomy member Katriina Tahka, CEO a-ha, a human agency

I am so pleased to see and hear more and more people speaking up about inappropriate behaviour at work. I myself have experienced firsthand bullying and discrimination at work. For too many years these stories were passed in whispers from person to person along the corridors; the volume dampened by a genuine fear of losing your job if you spoke up too loudly. Now there’s a roar.

We read the stories on line and see them on the news and in social media daily. But what hasn’t changed is the way that most organisations identify the source of the bad behaviour. Companies are often quick to point out that there was one person who was a bully, one person who harassed others and they are publicly stood down. Mandatory training is rolled out to every single person and internal investigations debate the guilt and punitive consequences.

This is a good thing – but it does not go deep enough. Blaming an individual puts a bandaid on the situation and does not solve the problem. The problem with toxic cultures is systemic, it goes right down to the core values and normative collective behaviours that enable the individual bad behaviour to go unchecked for years.

Our mission in this Whitepaper is to shine a light on how and why employers need to take a holistic approach and examine the whole workplace ecosystem to ensure that their dominant culture is one of respect at work for everyone. This is now a business imperative.

It’s not a risk and compliance issue any longer, but a strategic enabler of future growth and sustainability in a global community of increasingly connected, mobile and loud people who want to enjoy working in a humanfriendly workplace.

From toxic culture to respect at work

The report dives into the complex challenges of inappropriate workplace behaviour. We take a look at traditional and present day circumstances and outline the complexities these circumstances present in the modern workforce. We navigate a futurist approach to understand how toxic environments are created in the workplace. We take a holistic lens into the past, present and future of workplace dynamics, to consider all people and all behaviours, resulting in a comprehensive understanding of the full picture of workplace behaviour, extending the discussion beyond one single type of behaviour.

Our workplace is made up of a complex ecosystem of human behaviour, interaction and rapidly shifting ways of working, and without being on the front-foot of deeply understanding the role they each play in preventing inappropriate behaviours, workplaces will breed toxic environments.

Being able to recognise and understand human behaviour, and its impact on workplace culture is crucial in preventing inappropriate workplace behaviour. What’s missing from the processes and conversations of today is an understanding of the importance of considering both the individual and collective roles in enabling inappropriate behaviour to occur.

Through diving straight into the challenges that aren’t addressed in existing approaches, we set you up with solutions that enact cultural change and an understanding of how to engage with this complex ecosystem at work.

From toxic culture to respect at work: Examining inappropriate behaviour in a modern Australian workforce

Front page - From toxic culture to respect at work


You are the female economy. Whether you are a female consumer, business owner or a woman in the workforce, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.

A Human Agency (a-ha!) is a Femeconomy Platinum Member. To learn more about joining Femeconomy, hit the big red button below:

Submit your brand red blog post

Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.