Published: 04/11/2022
Category: The Bulletin
Published: 04/11/2022
Category: The Bulletin

This week’s episode of the Bulletin we speak to Robyn Peeples – a slimy, snivelling CEO – in the spirit of balanced media. 

Everyone has a bad boss story. Robyn Peeples is fictional but I could swear I’ve met him several iterations of him in various workplaces before. 

Dodgy, penny-pinching bosses are across every sphere – limiting our definitions to the Robyn Peeples of the world doesn’t capture the full scope. 

Places of education and learning are not immune 

One would be tempted to assume better of an institution associated with education, like a university. Alas, their executives do not behave any more decorously. Over the last couple decades, universities have increasingly acted like any other profits-driven organisation. Vice-chancellors of universities can pocket salaries of around $1m a year, meanwhile tertiary education haemorrhaged around 40,000 jobs in the wake of the pandemic.  

To add insult to injury, these lost jobs were predominantly (and unfairly) insecure to begin with, and furthermore they were not eligible for JobKeeper.  

The ubiquity of bad bosses has led to the creation of a Reddit thread titled, “Aussies, what’s your worst boss work conditions?” 

The stories are horrific. Like the story of a worker who pointedly asked if their job would be safe after a company restructure, and if not to be informed soon so as to spend time with their ailing father. They were told by their manager that it would be – only to be made redundant a few weeks after their father died. 

In the spirit of the bad boss thread, here’s one of mine: I was paid $50k a year before tax (which was including my superannuation) as a thirty-year-old with a master’s degree, working 12-hour days and weekends (no overtime) – pregnant – for a creative agency whose entire shtick was being socially conscious. 

Here is an actual email of an activity I was asked (as one of maybe 3 people of colour on the team) to perform: 

We essentially need to put forward our image selections for the CALD campaign and currently have 17 x images of our translator talent already on file which is great, but we of course need to make sure these 17 x images are suitable/relevant to all of our 55 languages for the rollout of the social and print assets. 

Attached is the deck as it stands with the name and language of the talent. 

What I’d like your help with is identifying what other languages we would be able to target with that particular hero image so it still feels relatable and not completely off. I appreciate there are nuances here which also makes this a strange request as “not everyone looks the same” just because they speak the same language; but it’s a starting point as we have these images on file already so would be a preferred approach if we can make it work. 

What I have noticed however is we don’t have talent images for our African communities at this stage.” 


God that felt good to get off my chest! 

What now 

These CEOs are so far removed from the reality of working Australians, it’s appalling. The character of Robyn Peeples – albeit fictional – and the real life examples above, speak to that ever-growing chasm between worker and bad boss, and the double-speak that CEOs use to justify their often callous actions. It’s hard sometimes to not feel overpowered by bosses when the structures favour them so heavily. But change is possible. 

Well firstly, there is a bill in Parliament at the moment called the “Secure Jobs, Better Pay” bill, which contains sensible changes to industrial relations legislation – including protections from sexual harassment in the workplace. For the bill to pass, it needs the vote of a crossbencher, and – acting in the best interests of their constituents – that’ll hopefully happen soon. 

And secondly! My old evil workplace wasn’t unionised! Things would’ve been different if delegates were present to hold them to account; if I’d just had the guts to have some conversations with fellow workers around the proverbial water-cooler. So, take my advice, join your union and get involved, it could really change your workplace for the better. 

Robbin’ People: Tales of a Bad Boss

Robbin’ People: Tales of a Bad Boss