Secretaries in email stoush

IT WILL go down as the email exchange of the year, and possibly the decade. Allens Arthur Robinson was recently embroiled in an email stoush between two secretaries in the Sydney office that was soon forwarded around the world

Secretaries in email stoush

IT WILL go down as the email exchange of the year, and possibly the decade. Allens Arthur Robinson was recently embroiled in an email stoush between two secretaries in the Sydney office that was soon forwarded around the world.

“I am in a happy relationship, have a beautiful apartment, brand new car, high paid job … say no more,” one secretary wrote. “Oh my God, I’m laughing,” the other replied, “beautiful apartment (so what), brand new car (me too), high paid job (I earn more) … say plenty more …I have 5 guys at the moment. Haha.”

The email exchange that had begun as a search for sandwich components that had disappeared from a fridge on level 19 soon turned into a personal attack. The emails were forwarded by one of the women to a lawyer within the firm, and soon ran out of control and outside the firm.

Entering the inboxes of staff at Deutsche Bank, Macquarie Bank, Queensland Government, law firm McCullough Robertson, Gadens Lawyers, Phillips Fox, BT Financial Group, Westpac Institutional Bank and others, the email was forwarded between the states and territories. Recipients added their comments and forwarded them on.

“So this is what happens in those posh Sydney firms,” one person wrote. “This just shows how bitchy the Big Law firms can be. Wow. A must read,”wrote another.

Unions have criticised the law firm, assuming that the women were sacked solely because of the email exchange. “I just hope this hasn’t happened because they are women and clerks rather than lawyers,” president of the United Services Union, Michael Want told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Allens was forced centre stage in the virtual scoop, and it became an accepted notion in the press that the women had been fired because of the email exchange. Human Resources understands that there is long held animosity between the two women.

When pressed about the fate of the two women earlier this week, Allens Arthur Robinson refused to comment. The firm warned instead that it is a lesson to all companies and individuals about the improper use of email.

“Employees have been reminded of the appropriate use of email as a result of an unfortunate email exchange last week,” a spokesperson said.

Top email career-limiting moves

1. Sending porn to your boss: You receive a picture that you just know your friend Daniel will appreciate. You forward it to him – using the Ctrl-K function to recognise the name. Daniel doesn’t reply and when you quiz him about it you realise he didn’t receive it. Frantically checking your sent items you realise that the explicit image was sent to Dani – your boss.

2. You send your CV from work: You send your CV to a number of recruitment agencies and prospective new employers from your work PC. Unfortunately, your company has been experiencing a chronic case of staff turnover and they’ve done something about it. All sent and received emails are scanned for the word ‘curriculum vitae’ and quarantined until read by the MD.

3. You open a picture of a celebrity – naked: You smile to yourself as you realise that you are about to see the goddess in her birthday suit. But a couple of minutes later you realise that something is wrong when your PC plays up, company software files go missing and systems crash.

4. You swear about your client in an email: Your client has been irritating you with their unrealistic demands and constant complaining. You vent your frustration in a ‘no holds barred’ email to your colleague. But in anger – and because you have him on your mind – you send it to the client instead.

5. You email your portfolio to a potential employer: to demonstrate your experience you email a potential employer examples of your work. The problem is that the new employer is a current competitor.

6. Ruining your company’s reputation: You send a truly graphic MPEG that only a few select friends would appreciate – you’re very careful about that. Your friends forward it onto a select group, too, and the chain goes on and on. In the end, over 300 people have received an email with your company name, address and URL with a graphic attachment.

7. You have an email argument with a colleague that turns nasty and your colleagues forwards your comments to all and sundry, not unlike the recent story concerning two secretaries at a prestigious Sydney law firm.

Source: Peter Croft, managing director, Clearswift Asia Pacific.

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD Australia.

Recent articles & video

Leaders 'struggling' to connect with teams overseas

Why HR should monitor the company's financial health

How can teams stay inclusive when operating remotely?

Kids on a conference call? Tips for parents working from home

Most Read Articles

COVID-19: How to boost staff morale

COVID-19: A legal perspective

Mental health, COVID-19 and your company