Holding ourselves to account: Owning up to the events of the Mumbrella Christmas party

In his first piece for Mumbrella, Diversified Communications (parent company of Mumbrella) managing director David Longman shares the details of an unfortunate incident that occurred late last year.

A little over four years ago, Diversified Communications acquired Mumbrella. Since then, I haven’t contributed to the content of Mumbrella, leaving that to those who do it best. But after a serious incident following the Sydney Christmas party last year, which included Mumbrella staff, I felt it necessary to get on the front foot and share what happened, including the ramifications.

I’m doing this because Mumbrella has a long history of holding the media and marketing industry to account. It has questioned the actions of individuals and businesses that have seemingly not acted in the best interests of staff, clients and the industry in general. Mumbrella is a strong supporter of diversity, culture and a safe working environment, and is not shy in pushing the industry to be better.

But we’re not perfect ourselves, and this piece is written because I feel it’s important to take ownership of when poor decisions are made. And much like when we call things out in the industry in order to agitate for change, we must be willing to make changes when we realise that our actions are the ones being called into question.

On 9 December 2021, Diversified Communications’ Sydney team had its Christmas party in North Sydney. After the party, a small group of Mumbrella staff went back to the Walker St office to continue in an unofficial capacity.

During this time, illicit drugs were purchased, distributed and consumed by a number of the staff there. The staff ranged from junior to more senior staff.

The incident was reported by Mumbrella members early the next week, with a full and thorough investigation by Diversified Communications’ HR team taking place swiftly.

It is not enough to simply investigate. Action must be taken, and that action must result in long-term benefits for the business and its staff.

Unfortunately, as a result of the investigation, two Mumbrella staff have resigned and a number of others have been warned. Furthermore, staff involved will be undertaking a drug awareness and education program which I believe will provide long-term benefits. We will, of course, provide ongoing support to those that need it.

I want to make it clear that Diversified Communications does not condone this type of behaviour as it goes against the company values and code of conduct.

Mumbrella’s editorial team writes about the good and bad of the industry, including issues with substance abuse. Even when it is uncomfortable, Mumbrella and Diversified Communications must hold itself to the same standards it asks of the rest of the industry.

We have chosen to disclose the incident as it is important that we are transparent with our audience about what has occurred, it would be easier for those involved to have kept it behind closed doors, however as Mumbrella has done throughout its time, we have owned our mistakes. It’s this transparency which has allowed Mumbrella to build the trust and reputation it has in the industry.

Mumbrella strives to tell it like it is, and that includes being honest about ourselves and holding ourselves to the same standard we expect of the industry.

The two people who have left were two valued people who were both good at their jobs and had contributed to the success of Mumbrella. I hope they can replicate those successes in their future and I hope all involved can learn from the situation we faced.

I also want to make it clear for any sceptics, that this is not a cost-cutting exercise either, Mumbrella will be filling both roles as soon as possible.

And finally, I also want to clarify that the announcement last week that Mumbrella’s head of content, Damian Francis, would be leaving the business was in no way related to this incident but was completely separate. Diversified Communications, Mumbrella and Damian part ways on very good terms. He continues with us this week in a consulting capacity.

This has been an uncomfortable piece for me to write and I hope not to grace the digital pages of Mumbrella often in the future, instead continuing to leave it to the professionals that you come to the site and open the newsletter for.

David Longman is the managing director of Diversified Communications Australia, parent company of Mumbrella. 


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