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In this newsletter
Welcome to the second issue
of the CPOW Newsletter for 2019.

CPOW members undertake a range of leadership roles, including on academic journal editorial boards, and provide expert evidence and advice in a range of forums. CPOW members are also active in policy debates reflected in diverse non-academic publications and in dynamic media engagement. A number of important new partnerships and collaborations were established, and others further developed over 2018 including with the Australian Human Rights Institute, African Australian Women in Melbourne, the Australia China Council, Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Victorian Trades Hall and Gippsland Trades and Labour Councils.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Professor Vanessa Cooper for the energy she has bought her role as CPOW Director over the last three years and for all the work she has undertaken in further developing CPOW as a significant RMIT Research Centre.  In particular, Vanessa has worked hard to provide stability for the position of Research Officer, which is now very ably filled by Peter Nowotnik. The Centre is in excellent shape with a set of cross-cutting research themes led by enthusiastic theme leaders.

Distinguished Professor Sara Charlesworth
Director, Centre for People, Organisation & Work

Event Success
School Seminar on Corporate Social Responsibility

On May 8th, the School of Management Research Seminar Series (run by Carys Chan, with assistance from Kate Farhall) teamed up with the newly established CPOW theme on ‘Corporate Accountability’ to run a lunchtime seminar on Corporate Social Responsibility. In front of an at-capacity audience, Shelley Marshall and Annie Delaney from CPOW, together with Dr Carol Bond from the School of Management — shared their research expertise centring on the interface between corporations and both worker and environmental justice claims.

Drawing on cross-industry examples from the garment sector to mining, the panellists shared both their research findings and broader strategies as activist-academics to create positive social change through various forms of stakeholder engagement. The subsequent Q&A session provoked lively discussion about how to effectively change entrenched forms of inequality or environmentally damaging practices through partnering with industry, government, international regulators, not-for-profits, trade unions and local communities. The success of this seminar indicates that the new Corporate Accountability theme within CPOW is likely to be a dynamic one which attracts a diverse membership. A video of the seminar is available here. (source: Kate Farhall)

(Video: Peter Nowotnik)


Professor Walter DeKeseredy (Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences, Director of the Research Center on Violence, and Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University) gave a seminar on violence against women in rural areas. This brought together intersecting themes of research from CPOW, and across RMIT, especially among those who address gender inequality and violence against women, and those who focus on rural and regional localities in their work. Walter outlined the way in which rurality has been traditionally overlooked as a factor that changes and shapes women's experience of violence, and their help-seeking behaviour - even across very varied national contexts and cultures. He called for more engagement from social scientists and policy makers in recognising the importance of rural and regional research on masculinity and men's violence, especially men's violence against women - and there was a lively and engaged Q&A following his presentation. A video of the seminar is available here. (source: Meagan Tyler)

(Video: Peter Nowotnik)


Together with the School of Management, on 2 May 2019 CPOW co-hosted a very successful book launch for Iola Mathews’ memoir: Winning for Women: A Personal Story (Monash University Publishing).

(Video: Peter Nowotnik)

Iola was one of the founders of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, a journalist at The Age, and later a leading ACTU advocate for women workers during the ‘Accord’ with the Hawke-Keating Government. Iola’s memoir captures a pivotal time for Australia’s working women and gives a behind-the-scenes perspective on critical reforms on affirmative action, equal pay, superannuation, child care, parental leave and work-family issues.

Iola’s book was launched by ACTU Secretary Sally McManus with Head of School of Management Pauline Stanton providing the Acknowledgment of Country and introducing both Sally and Iola. The launch was attended by over 150 people, who included some of the original members of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, younger unionists including Kara Keys and Nikkita Venville, former Premier John Cain, former federal minister Barry Jones and Justice Iain Ross, President of the Fair Work Commission. (source: Sara Charlesworth)

From left: Iola Mathews, Prof. Pauline Stanton, Dist. Prof. Sara Charlesworth (Photo: Peter Nowotnik)


The Feminist Forum seminar series continued into 2019 with another packed-out event on the 28th of February. Internationally renowned scholar, Prof. Kathleen Richardson (De Montfort University, UK), spoke about sex robots, patriarchy, and hope for a more gender equal future. Taking the audience through her training as an anthropologist, via her first foray into the robotic world when she undertook an anthropology of the world-class MIT robotics laboratory, to arrive at her feminist awakening, Kathleen challenged narratives that position sex robots as a panacea for various social problems. Whether proposed as a cure for loneliness, or as a safe and victimless way to act out various forms of sexual exploitation, the presentation unpacked the assumptions which underlie the celebratory artificial intelligence (AI) rhetoric. Drawing on theory and research from psychology, political science, philosophy, health sciences and feminism, Kathleen demonstrated the ways in which sex robots fail to challenge patriarchal assumptions about masculinity and sexuality, the objectification and commodification of women and the ways in which humans form and maintain intimate relationships. As one of the first feminist theorists to contest the emergence of sex robots, Kathleen’s work is pathbreaking in bringing a feminist lens to the study of the growing AI market. The formal seminar was also followed by an innovative masterclass on feminist futures, conducted at a local pub! (source: Kate Farhall)

From left: (top row) Tegan Larin, Meagan Tyler, Caitlin Roper (bottom row) Kate Farhall, Kathleen Richardson  (Photo: Kate Farhall)


Peter's presentation focused on work and the futures of work (see https://futuresofwork.co.uk/). His address focused on ‘worse work’, with examples from across the EU transport industry. He began with the specification of the EU benchmark for work betterment, referring to the European social agenda (Amsterdam Treaty 1997, art. 136), which has implications for work in the UK. 

Peter located the analysis with reference to institutional theories and with an engaging reference to Ricardo and the theory of rent. These ideas were explored via four cases: maritime, aviation, passenger transport, and road haulage transport. His conclusion focused on firms exploiting labour markets with the exploitation of workers just one step ahead of protective legislation. 

The ways in which EU law has developed means that law makes it easier for firms to operate in exploitative ways. The union responses have been to identify cases that challenge company practices. Questions for further analysis: How to regulate? What to regulate? (source: Peter Turnbull, Peter Fairbrother)

(Video: Peter Nowotnik)

Engagement & Impact
The Work + Family Policy Roundtable 2019 Benchmarks

The Roundtable is a research network of 32 academics from 17 universities and research institutions with expertise on work, care and family policy. Every federal election, the Roundtable prepares a set of policy benchmarks, drawing on the latest research on work, family and care policy. After a day of deliberations last September at RMIT, Roundtable members decided on key themes for its 2019 federal Election Benchmarks.

For the 2019 Federal Election the Roundtable issued a set of policy benchmarks focused broadly on the theme of Time to work and time to care: Making gender equality possible. The Roundtable advocated three policy trajectories: increased investment in high quality integrated care infrastructure; a strong regulatory system fit for purpose; and gender equality. Based on the election policy commitments of the Coalition government and the Labor opposition, on 12 May the Roundtable issued an  Election 2019 Score Card  and assessed how the political parties rated against the research evidence.

While there have been some positive commitments by Labor, particularly around increased investment in Early Childhood Education and Care, the Roundtable  believes that current Australian policy settings do not provide adequate supports for families to work and care, in ways that suit their circumstances. (source: Sara Charlesworth)


Most of the signatories to the Joint Statement have made individual submissions to the Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into sexual harassment calling for urgent reforms to end sexual harassment in the workplace. The Joint Statement stressed the need for urgent strong and collective action by government and employers to stamp out sexual harassment at work by effectively tackling sexual harassment as a cultural, a systemic and a health and safety issue. (source: Sara Charlesworth)

Dr Carys Chan and Dr Marie Beamond: 4th Global Conference on International Human Resource Management

On 9th–11th May, CPOW members Maria Beamond and Carys Chan presented at the 4th Global Conference on International Human Resource Management hosted by the Center for International Human Resource Studies, School of Labor and Employment Relations, Pennsylvania State University. Maria chaired a session on ‘Talent management in MNEs’ and presented her work ‘Shared-value through the eyes of IHRM and employment relations: Emerging economies’, and Carys presented her research ‘Cross-border M&As: A role theory perspective on how the mismatch between organisational political ideology and host country institutions impacts employee outcomes’. Maria’s and Carys’ work were among the 36 paper submissions accepted for presentation at the conference. Alongside the conference theme on International Human Resource Management, there was also a pre-conference publishing workshop sponsored by the Human Resource Management Journal and practitioner/academia seminar on 'Reverse globalization? Critical times for talent management'. (source: Carys Chan)

Left top: Dr Maria Beamond; Left bottom: Prof Carys Chan  (Photo: Carys Chan)

Partnership & Project Updates

The second CPOW-CRIMT Workshop (Concepts. Cases. Impact.) took place on the 1st of May, drawing together key scholars from the CPOW network who are engaged with the flagship CRIMT ‘Institutional Experimentation for Better Work’ Partnership Project, funded by an SSHRC grant (Canada) and managed from Montreal (HEC – Hautes études commerciales de Montréal and Université de Montréal). The second workshop built on momentum from the first, held in February, with the goal of clarifying how researchers can play an active role in the global partnership. In particular, the workshop focussed on developing ‘cases’ of better (or worse) work — which will comprise the central elements of the partnership project. Three CPOW-affiliated scholars — Dr Annie Delaney, Dr Amanda Coles and Dr Fiona Macdonald — presented work-in-train, with workshop participants helping them to unpack their findings and conceptual approach through the lens of the partnership project.

Alongside this productive exercise, attendees heard via videoconference from two of the project’s lead researchers in Montreal (Prof Gregor Murray and Prof Christian Levesque) and participated in discussions regarding the conceptual and practical challenges of the project. Throughout the workshop, researchers engaged in productive debates around how to move forward effectively with the project, how to work productively in partnership with the CRIMT network, and how to leverage potential ‘Better Work’ cases for further publication, collaboration, engagement and impact outcomes. CPOW researchers involved with the ‘Better Work’ project are leading the way on the development of cases in this global partnership and are providing significant input into the research co-design process. Further CPOW-CRIMT network activities are scheduled throughout 2019. (source: Kate Farhall)

Top picture: (from left) Dr Kate Farhall, Dr Annie Delaney, Prof. Cathy Brigden, Karen Douglas, Dr Amanda Coles, Prof. Gregor Murray (on-screen), Prof. Peter Fairbrother; Middle picture: Dr Amanda Coles; Bottom picture: Dr Annie Delaney; (Photos: Peter Nowotnik)

Research Profile
Say Yen Teoh

Currently, she is teaching Enterprise Systems courses in post-graduate and under-graduate levels with the use of latest SAP systems. Her teaching is in line with her research interests consisting of enterprise system implementation, health information systems, strategic information systems and digital transformation. As an active case study researcher, she has conducted case studies in several countries including Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and China.

She has published in top-ranking journals, among others including Information Systems Journal, Communications of AIS, Journal of Global Information Management, Information Systems Frontiers, and Enterprise Information Systems. At present she is an associate editor for Asia Pacific Journal of Information Systems. Being a new member of CPOW, she is eagerly looking forward to participating and contributing to the growth of the centre. (source: Say Yen Teoh)

Media & Publications
Alan Montague, John Burgess, Nuttawuth Muenjohn, Timothy Bartram: An AI article in 'The Conversation'

They wrote: ‘Despite this uncertainty about the exact number of human jobs that will disappear, it is certain the impacts of automation driven by artificial intelligence (AI) are potentially profound. Our concern relates to the lack of planning and policy leadership from government for, what is shaping, as the obliteration of many unskilled jobs and changes for many others, as this is occurring already in many professions'. 

They go on to say: 'Yet there is little evidence of any strategic planning and forward thinking by Australia’s federal and state governments to minimise the potential downside. The recent federal budget, for example, was silent on this issue. It is analogous to the lack of a strategic plan on climate change'.

Stan Karanasios : On Online Communities Closures, Information Management and Viral Videos
Carys Chan: A new publication in the British Journal of Social Work (ERA A*)

Social workers often experience stress from competing work and family demands, which negatively affects their job well-being and subsequently their job satisfaction. Yet, social workers can experience enrichment from participating in both work and family roles, which positively influences their job well-being and job satisfaction.

Carys and her co-authors sought to examine the mediating role of job well-being on the relationship between work–family enrichment and job satisfaction, and the moderating role of family support on the relationship between work–family enrichment and job well-being, and subsequently on job satisfaction for social workers. They collected data from professional social workers employed in various governmental and non-governmental agencies across fifteen states and territories (n = 428) in India and found that social workers who experienced work–family enrichment also experienced job well-being and subsequently job satisfaction, particularly at higher levels of family support. Their findings highlight the importance of the synergistic combination of work and family resources such as family support, work–family enrichment and job well-being to enhance the job satisfaction of social workers. (source: Carys Chan)


If you would like to join CPOW or include your research activities in forthcoming newsletters, please email these to: cpow@rmit.edu.au

CPOW acknowledges that economic and social divisions are defining features of the world we live in. The Centre’s research focuses on addressing economic inequalities and fragmentation, social questions around gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age and locality, to enhance working lives and advance positive social change. Find out more at: CPOW


RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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