In a frank interview with the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Cleanaway Waste Management’s CEO Vik Bansal, explained why he needed to be tough on staff to fix the company.
Complaints that Bansal’s management style led to a “culture of bullying and harassment” have made headlines over the past month and come at a time when the WARR industry is working to elevate itself into a position as a significant force within the Australian economy.
Bansal said there was “absolutely a need for speed” in trying to fix the troubled company when he took over in 2015, as he admitted to conduct unbecoming a chief executive while acknowledging that it was “painful” to have the spotlight turned on him.
May complaint triggered investigation
A complaint in May this year, which was the subject of an independent investigation resulted in Bansal now receiving mentoring and becoming subject to enhanced reporting and monitoring.
Bansal confirmed that Victoria police had been called to both the company’s St Kilda Road headquarters and its Perry Road Office and Collections Depot in Dandenong South after employees raised concerns they were asked to work from the office during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, he said nothing eventuated from the police visits and the Department of Health in Victoria had complimented the company.
“My personal biggest learning out of COVID is a significant appreciation of flexible hours,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you, I was one of those executives: I was not in the camp of working from home.”
The May 2020 complaint was triggered by concerns employees couldn’t work from home, and pointed to previous instances where it was seen that Mr Bansal discriminated against women who needed flexible hours.
Since joining the Cleanaway (formerly known as Transpacific Industries) in 2015, Bansal has grown the company’s share by 300 per cent although that has dropped following the emergence of this issue.
Inside Waste spoke with Nextek managing director Ed Kosiar who consults with Cleanaway and other international WARR companies. He said that while it’s true that the whole industry has to be tough to run successful businesses, companies such as Cleanaway need all their operations tracking well if they are to grow.
“This is obviously a culture issue which appears elsewhere in the economy and the waste industry is no different from other industries either in Australia or globally,” he said.