By Ruth Limkin
I discovered the Women at Telstra webpage a few weeks ago.
The sentiments expressed were encouraging, particularly around developing a workplace for women that is ‘supportive’ and being ‘proactive about women’s development and gender inclusion’. I agree that that such outcomes take ‘focus and specific action’.
The video message by CEO David Thodey was eloquent and authentic. The desire he expressed about Telstra being a place that ‘connects women with real opportunities’ is both admirable and good business practice.
Hence, when I became aware of the nature of some of the Bigpond mobile videos that Telstra was selling, I was both disappointed and somewhat confused at the mixed messages being sent.
After media reports about inappropriate smartphone videos, I checked to make sure it hadn’t been a headline grabbing beatup. Sadly, it wasn’t. I discovered that Telstra sells smartphone video content such as ‘Star Power’, which says it has ‘ladies for viewing pleasure’, or ‘Tokyo Fantasy’ – with ‘ladies straight from Tokyo’ which I assume are also provided for ‘viewing pleasure’.
For Telstra to make the decision to profit off content like this doesn’t contribute to the promotion of a workplace or society where women of different ethnicities are respected. Rather it reduces them to sexual objects for viewing pleasure.
Material such as this does not ‘connect women to real opportunities’ – other than opportunities to be objectified.
I contacted Telstra’s head office, and respectfully pointed out the clash of message and market practises. I attached a screen shot of their Bigpond Mobile Video website. On the same screen as Go Diego Go (a children’s program) was the Playboy logo, and I highlighted that incongruity.
A reply arrived in a very timely manner, which is not insignificant when it’s from those running a huge company. Considering the time of day (or night) that some of the correspondence arrived, I’m confident that Telstra’s senior team are very busy people.
They were polite, but most of all, responsive. While they’ve not yet made a commitment to stop selling these videos, they’ve made a very positive change. They informed me that as a result of our correspondence, they’ve removed the Playboy promotion from their website.
I checked (of course) and they had. I thanked them quickly and sincerely.(I also kindly asked that they give serious and thoughtful consideration to taking further steps, however, let’s never let the aspirations of further positive action stop us from celebrating that which has occurred).
When corporations take responsibility, and use their actions to acknowledge the worth and value of women, the world gets a little bit better.
So thank you Telstra. Thank you sincerely. You did a good thing, and you should be proud of that decision. I look forward to celebrating future corporate responsibility with you.
PS – I’d love it if you could share this article. We’re quick to share complaints, and not always as quick to commend. Let’s encourage when we can!
PPS – If you’re not sure why issues like this matter, this will illuminate it. “Why are you doing this to me?” – the anguish of a 6 year old.