Scentre Group and Honey Birdette Advertisements in Westfield Retail Space: Eight examples of Inconsistency

1) Scentre Group promotes awareness and supports victims of domestic violence

Scentre_Group_Speak_Out_Image.png

(Source: https://2017.scentregroupsustainability.com/domestic-violence/)

They also allow display of sexualised imagery- the very type that perpetuates harmful stereotypes and is correlated with violence against women.

2) Avoidance of discrimination 

Scentre Group Directors’ Code of Conduct requires that directors 

“Avoid discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, religious beliefs, race, marital status or disability.”

(Source: https://www.scentregroup.com/getmedia/ce74d606-dbce-4878-85f2-882e6cdb043c/Scentre-Group-Directors-Code-of-Conduct-June-2015-(1).pdf)

Yet in their retail space, discrimination occurs daily against Westfield customers in the form unwanted exposure to sexualised imagery. 

3) Concerns for public health and safety 

Scentre Group employees are encouraged to report behaviours that bring “harm to public health or safety or the health or safety of any Scentre Group employee.”

(Source: https://2017.scentregroupsustainability.com/compliance/)

Despite the claim above, Scentre Group continues to allow display of sexualised imagery - the very type verified by research to harm mental health, body image, sense of self-worth and attitudes towards women.

4) Encouragement to report unethical behaviours

Scentre Group employees are urged - via formal whistleblowing policy - to report concerns about “unethical, unlawful or improper conduct” and are ensured they may do so “without fear of reprisal.”

(Source: https://2016.scentregroupsustainability.com/compliance/)

Yet when customers reported unethical behaviours (in the form of Honey Birdette advertisements - 13 recent examples of which have been ruled to breach Ad Standards) Scentre Group’s response was silence. Direct approaches to Scentre Group lessees, Honey Birdette, have been met with claims that are dismissive, condescending and scientifically indefensible.

5) Champions for gender equality

Brian Schwartz, chairman of Scentre Group, has been lauded as a champion for gender equality in the workplace. He was initially driven by the desire to see his own daughters grow up in a world with equal access to opportunities to succeed and excel.

(Source: http://aicd.companydirectors.com.au/membership/company-director-magazine/2016-back-editions/september/interview-brian-schwartz)

Despite this, Scentre Group has remained content for customers’ daughters (and sons) to grow up in a world where exposure to sexualised imagery in the course of grocery shopping and visits to Santa is the norm.

6) Commitment to the development of women

Westfield is the major sponsor of our national women’s soccer team, the Matildas, and also of the Young Matildas (under-20s team). (See https://matildas.footballaustralia.com.au/)

Despite Westfield’s tremendous dedication to the development of women in sport, they have failed women in the general public by allowing the display of overtly sexualised imagery (via Honey Birdette advertising) to persist.

7) Commitment to community enrichment 

In the endeavour to “connect and enrich communities,” Scentre Group gathered feedback from “some 29,000 community members.”

(Source: 2016 Sustainability Report, A Message from our CEO Peter Allen, page 3).

Despite their stated commitment to the betterment of local communities, Scentre Group has largely ignored the 63,000 community members who have signed this petition.

8) Proponents of change

Sir Frank Lowy, Owner and Manager (and former Chair) of Westfield was named a 2018 BOSS (publication) True Leader. True Leaders are “people who are changing Australia for the better.”

(Source: https://www.afr.com/brand/boss/boss-true-leaders-2018-frank-lowy-20180702-h124mq)

Despite this award and the existing change.org petition which has urged Westfield to indeed make a change for the better by ceasing to allow Honey Birdette porn-style advertising in their retail space, no change has occurred. 

Sir Frank was quoted in March, regarding the growing popularity and success of pop-ups in Westfield shopping centres and their resemblance to kiosks of old:

“The more things change, the more they stay the same." 

(Source: https://www.afr.com/leadership/i-wanted-to-be-more-than-just-a-business-machine-sir-frank-lowy-20180309-h0x93p)

Sadly, little could be more truly said about the perpetual disregard and mistreatment of customers in Westfield-owned retail space – driven by Westfield’s continuing permissive relationship with Honey Birdette. Only when this dichotomous situation ceases and Westfield agrees to allow advertising only of the type that lines up with their other positive statements and activities within their retail space will any true change be possible. 


Click here to sign the petition to Westfield


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