AMP chair Debra Hazelton (Image: Supplied)

It was a glorious day for female empowerment yesterday with the dinosaurs vanquished and the bullies and strongmen axed from toxic workplaces.

And we haven’t even got to AMP yet.

From Washington to Sydney to the Korean peninsula the cultural change wave was happening — though the narrative of woke women winning was not always that clear.

Donald Trump’s staunchest female defender Kellyanne Conway announced she was finally leaving the White House, the last of his closest allies to do so.

But to the disappointment of her myriad haters on the left, she didn’t leave in handcuffs, nor even under a cloud like most of her male counterparts from the West Wing. She left for that most motherhood of reasons: motherhood.

And for once she probably wasn’t lying when she said she wanted to spend more time with her children, after news at the weekend that her 15-year-old daughter Claudia was trying to legally divorce her because her mother’s job ruined her life.

“More mama less drama” was how the consummate PR woman signed off yesterday.

Meanwhile media report claim that reviled North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is in a coma and that his sister Kim Jo-yong has taken control.

Putting aside the fact that reports of Kim Jong-un’s death have been greatly exaggerated even in the recent past, few believe King Jo-yong fits the usual mantra that female leaders are more empathetic — in fact, analysts are quoted as saying she could be just as “ruthless” as her tyrant brother.

In Sydney the Nine television network was hailed for its sudden wokeness with headlines it had axed Ellen DeGeneres — the controversial Hollywood star whose talk show is under fire over claims of bullying — from its lineup.

The fact that the traditionally politically incorrect blokes at Nine, who have had their share of bullying claims and toxic workplace allegations over the years, were cancelling a darling of the left over the same claims was beyond ironic.

Before we get too excited at the Nineosaurs becoming extinct, we should note that they are currently in negotiations for renewal of the contract for Ellen’s precarious program and this was probably more a commercial decision than a major cultural awakening.

Back in April before the controversy happened, the Australian network had stopped airing her pandemic show — known as Ellen’s self-isolation show, but which should have been titled Ellen’s self-indulgent show.

And so to AMP, where women’s groups were justifiably cock-a-hoop at the boardroom bloodbath at the embattled financial group.

The resignation of chairman David Murray, his embarrassing mate John Fraser, and the demotion of the bloke who caused it all, Boe Pahari, was not only a victory for the empowerment of women but also the empowerment of activist shareholders’ rights groups and fund managers who forced the move.

My previous columns on Dinosaur Dave and “call me a prick” Fraser still stand, but for now a couple of key points must be remembered when the rejoicing subsides.

Note that the decision to promote Boe Pahari, despite knowledge of their own report confirming inappropriate behaviour, was a unanimous board decision — a board which includes those still there, like David Murray’s old CBA legal counsel John O’Sullivan, not to mention the new boss.

While it is a good look to have a female chair in Debra Hazelton replace the old boys, it is just as crucial that she is an experienced banker unlike Murray’s also disgraced predecessor Catherine Brenner.

Not that Murray’s impressive banking pedigree helped his judgment on social issues. Just as having three female board members in the Brenner era didn’t help them improve the notorious AMP lying and stealing culture according to evidence at the Hayne banking royal commission.

So for now we can hope the message at AMP is not only keep your hands to yourself but out of the till and pockets of your customers as well.

Peter Fray

Inoculate yourself against the spin

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and protect yourself against news that goes viral.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW