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High profile lawyer Elizabeth Broderick to lead review of EY corporate culture

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One month after senior auditor Aishwarya Venkatachalam’s suicide at the EY Sydney office, the company has now appointed high profile lawyer Elizabeth Broderick AO to lead a review of its workplace culture.

Broderick is Australia’s longest serving sex discrimination commissioner (from 2007 to 2015) and is the UN special rapporteur for discrimination against women and girls. She has led 13 major cultural reviews into leading national institutions, including the Australian Defence Force.

She is known for her tough, in-depth investigations into discrimination and workplace culture issues.

Many are hoping that Broderick’s involvement in the review will lead to tangible change in the organisation, which is facing widespread accusations of racism and toxic work culture after Venkatachalam took her own life on 27 August after a work event, falling from the 11th floor of the EY building.

Just half an hour earlier, passers-by reportedly saw the 27-year-old crying in a nearby car park.

Venkatachalam had moved to Australia almost a year ago to take up the role and was reportedly dealing with “mean colleagues”, friend Neeti Bisht told Daily Mail Australia.

As part of the review, EY Oceania CEO and Regional Manager David Larocca has confirmed that Elizabeth Broderick & Co workers would have access to EY staff across all levels with confidential interviews.

An earlier statement from the company had noted the review “will look at security and safety of our premises, how we work, including how we connect at social functions, and the mental health and wellbeing supports that we have at EY.”

EY is also working with NSW Police and SafeWork NSW to investigate Venkatachalam’s tragic death at the office building.

News of Venkatachalam’s death has sent shockwaves through Sydney’s corporate community, sparking conversations about mental health, the firm’s culture, and work hours. One former employee, who asked not to be named, opened up to News.com about microaggressions at the consulting firm, such as refusing to learn the pronunciation of non-Anglo-Saxon names and the “cliquey” nature of teams.

Members of the Indian-Australian community in Australia have also weighed in on the allegations of racism. In one now-viral LinkedIn post, financial analyst Sriraman Annaswamy noted how Venkatachalam felt “she didn’t have anybody that she could confide in, trust and stay with.”

“Still remember the times when we would routinely head out to the airport to pick up near-strangers arriving from India, introduce them to other community friends, help them around till they bought their own cars, get them to various community worship and prayer sessions, then remained in touch from then on,” the post read. “Have we, as the Indian-Australian community, grown so much that we have become judgemental and lost our community’s helpful spirit?”

Crisis support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.

READ MORE: International students Nidhi Hirani, Ruxmi Vaghjihani drown in deadly lake crash

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