Marie Claire Australia



Kristy Fraser-Kirk knows all about speaking truth to power. In 2010, the then-27-year-old junior publicist was at the centre of one of the most high-profile harassment cases in Australian history after she brought a multimilli­on-dollar lawsuit against retailer David Jones, alleging the company’s then CEO, Mark McInnes, had sexually harassed her. McInnes denied the claims and the case ultimately settled outside of court, but the personal toll was immense for Fraser-Kirk, who was portrayed as a grasping gold digger by a headlinehu­ngry media in a pre

#MeToo landscape.

“Back then, the media and general public opinion was far less accepting of women who tried to bring attention to sexual harassment in the workplace,” says Fraser-Kirk, now 39. “It was far easier to scapegoat and vilify the person airing the issues rather than face the issues themselves. I did what I did because what happened to me was wrong. I had ... an organisati­on that turned a blind eye and a culture whereby it was deemed normal for women to remain silent at whatever cost. It was important then and it is still important today, to say out loud that was not OK.”

Fraser-Kirk remains proud of her decision to speak out and is optimistic about the groundswel­l of change in Australia, but is adamant that more accountabi­lity is needed. “We need to get some basics right, starting with holding those accountabl­e in boardroom positions for the culture and benchmarks that they are setting,” she says. “The onus should never be on already-vulnerable people to come forward.”

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