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Hundreds Of Current, Former Sony Music Employees Speak About Toxic Culture

The ABC aired an explosive investigation on last night’s Four Corners, revealing what must be the worst-kept secret in the Australian music business: the absolutely vile and disgusting manner in which Denis Handlin ran the fiefdom that is/was Sony Music Australia.

The ABC referred to the “systemic bullying, discrimination and misconduct” within the company during Handlin’s half-century of terror at the company, outlining numerous cases of sexual harassment, petulant behaviour, and volatility.

He left the company in June as the company steered in “a new direction”, according to a staff email. His son, Pat Handlin, is currently ‘on leave’ from Sony Music Australia.

“The kindest thing I could say about Denis was that he was sort of an equal opportunity abuser,” said ex-Sony employee Eleanor McKay. “He was as mean to men as he was to women.”

In a statement to the ABC, Handlin said: “I have always provided support and encouragement to women in the industry and personally championed diversity.

This, as the program made clear, is simply not the case.

“Denis was very volatile, you know? I remember that,” McKay told the program.

“And sort of being a bit shocked by how intense he was. And, in both ways, like, when he was happy … the whole office was, you know, fun and games, and when he was not, it was like, ‘Whoa, he’s on the rampage,’ and everybody wanted to get out of the way.”

The report included footage of a Christmas staff party in which Handlin was dressed as Adolf Hitler.

Denis Handlin was awarded the Order of Australia in 2005 for “service to the music industry, particularly through the promotion of Australian musicians, to professional organisations, and to the community through fundraising for charitable organisations”.

 

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