Recent ABC coverage saw corporate governance experts criticising Premier Investments for hiring the disgraced former David Jones boss as its chief executive. With McInnes sued last year for sexual harassment by DJs publicist Kristy Fraser-Kirk, experts commented that his new appointment showed Premier as “out of touch with the modern world”.
Ruth Medd, chairman, Women On Boards, said McInnes’ appointment “sends a message to women that CEOs can behave badly and be quickly rehabilitated. It sends a message that perhaps the customers are not the first consideration for corporate Australia. It sends the message that making profits is more important than ethics.”
Human resources executive and commentator Avril Henry added she’d like to ask Premier senior executives one question:
“If this happened to your daughter in another organisation, would you hire that candidate to run an organisation where you were on the board?”
Thomas Clarke, a professor at The University of Technology indicated the company was behaving like a “boys’ club” by appointing male heads in an organisation primarily staffed by women.
McInnes took up his role on April 4 and is understood to have taken a package of $2 million annual salary plus bonuses that could rise as high as $3.2 million a year. His employment comes with a misconduct clause allowing the company to end his employment immediately in the event of serious misconduct or circumstances which warrant summary dismissal at law. When McInnes’ appointment was first announced, Premier head Solomon Lew commented:
“We are pleased to bring Mark into the Premier team and I am very much looking forward to working with him both to improve the performance of Just Group, Australia’s largest specialty retailer, and to grow Premier’s retail assets.”
At the time of writing it was understood McInnes’ role could include oversight of retail brands JAG and Diana Ferrari, which Premier Investments was reportedly planning to purchase from the ailing Colorado group.
The sexual harassment case between McInnes and Fraser-Kirk was resolved in October 2010, with Fraser-Kirk receiving $850,000.