The number of current and former Mecca employees who have made formal complaints about alleged bullying at the beauty brand has almost doubled to 27 in a matter of days, according to Young Workers Centre (YWC).
Last week, Mecca announced it had hired an independent HR specialist in response to the complaints of alleged bullying, first published anonymously by Instagram account @estéelaundry.
YWC, a trade union outfit which calls itself a “one-stop-shop” for young workers wanting to learn more about their rights, had received 14 formal complaints at the time, and saw an “influx” as news of the allegations were published across Australian media.
Those making complaints include both current and former employees, YWC told PEDESTRIAN.TV, and are or were employed across retail stores, distribution centres, and head office.
“It’s clearly a widespread issue,” director Felicity Sowerbutts told P.TV
“There’s clearly a strong sentiment from employees but also the broader community that they’re disappointed that Mecca has these issues of bullying which are coming to the forefront.”
Former Mecca employee Narita Salima started a petition on Megaphone, a project of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, to demand a review into the alleged bullying.
At the time of writing, the petition has over 340 signatures.
Sowerbutts says YWC will contact Mecca in the “near future” to let them know about the petition and demand that correct measures be taken to control the risk of bullying.
“These corrective measures need to include training for all managers to make sure they can provide a psychologically safe workplace for the employees they manage.”
For now, YWC is in the process of reaching out to all current and former employees who lodged complaints, in order to effectively map out the best next step for them.
A former employee, who P.TV has identified as Leah*, worked at Mecca for a year and a half as a colour specialist and alleges the bullying started “pretty much straight away”.
“I’m more introverted I guess and for some reason they just singled me out as the easiest target,” she says.
Leah was “constantly being critiqued” by senior colleagues and often felt “nitpicked” and “micro-managed”.
“[It was] constant, constant, to a point where I was walking on eggshells all the time because I was terrified that whatever I was doing, I was doing wrong.”
Leah, who had worked at another cosmetics company before starting at Mecca, says she never had a problem at her previous workplace.
“I was so confident and I really flourished there and then at Mecca I just turned into a withdrawn – I turned into a pale version of myself.”
She says the bullying started as “little manipulative comments”.
“[It was] subtle things like throwing you in the deep end constantly, putting you on show in front of customers, putting you on show in front of your other colleagues that you work with, making examples of you, [and] diminishing feelings.”
In a statement issued in response to the media coverage, Mecca says it is treating all the issues raised “seriously”.
As well as hiring an independent consultant, Mecca has commenced listening tours around stores to recognise what the company can do better.
“To be clear, we have zero tolerance for bullying, harassment, and discrimination of any kind. To that end, we have expanded the number of reporting channels our team can use to ensure that issues are reported in real time, so we can thoroughly investigate, and act on any matter,” it said in a statement.
Mecca says it has a “very low rate” of bullying complaints, “0.2 per cent of our workforce has made a bullying complaint in the past two years”, and says all complaints were thoroughly investigated with appropriate action taken.
You can read Mecca’s full statement, including a Q/A, here.
*Not her real name.