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UPDATED: Cotton On staff told to be fun and “keep it real” or face getting fired

  • News
  • March 19, 2015
  • The Register team
UPDATED: Cotton On staff told to be fun and “keep it real” or face getting fired

Staff being young and hip is a matter the company takes very seriously. Speaking about unacceptable conduct, it warns: “Any team member found engaging in any of the below acts will be subject to disciplinary action which may include counselling, warnings or instant dismissal.”

A Cotton On spokeswoman would not tell The Age if any of its workers had been laid off for not being fun enough. 

She said its aforementioned values show what’s expected of Cotton On’s staff.

"If a team member were to be found to behave in a manner or represent themselves in a way that was not honest, genuine, respectful and transparent (for example) then yes – we would consider those behaviours to be a misalignment with our value of ‘Keeping it Real’,” she told the paper.

There is no confirmation whether this code of conduct applies to Cotton On’s New Zealand employees, too.

Its careers website shows 39 jobs available in New Zealand, but none of the previous values are mentioned in the job descriptions.

Nigel Austin founded the company in 1991, in Geelong, Australia.

It now has nine brands under its belt, including Typo, Rubi shoes and Cotton On Kids, resulting in over 1300 stores and over 19,000 employees worldwide that are “keeping it real.”

The company made headlines last year after a quote from 2004 cult film Mean Girls, “You Can’t Sit With Us,” was printed on bags, clutches and T-shirts.

This caused a stir amongst the public, with many of them taking to social media to say it promoted bullying. 

One user posted, ““Really, Cotton On? I know it’s a quote from Mean Girls and I know it is meant to be cute but don’t we have enough trouble with bullying? #nobullys #retail fail.”

The products were pulled from the range.

Cotton On Group's corporate office released a statement in response to the article the day after it was printed in Australia:

"The Cotton On Group is disappointed with the article published by Fairfax today. The article was inaccurate and a misrepresentation of our culture, values and employment practices.

We are extremely proud of our culture and the values upon which this culture is built and we absolutely encourage our team members to embrace and embody these. 

To clarify, our values and the referenced Code of Conduct are not conditions of employment, as was clearly expressed to the journalist."

Starbucks has also attracted negative media attention for its demands on staff, after announcing it would encourage baristas to try to talk to customers about race relations. Baristas will write “Race Together” on coffee cups before handing them out, before seeking to engage the customer in a conversation.

“When did you first become aware of your race?” is one question a barista might ask a patron who is interested in starting one of these free-range “organic dialogues," Starbucks’ spokesperson Linda Mills told the Christian Science Monitor.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

  • Who's Where
  • July 16, 2019
  • The Register team
Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

Foodstuffs has announced that its former executive Baden Ngan Kee has passed away after a battle with lung cancer.

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2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

  • News
  • July 14, 2019
  • The Register team
2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

Used car dealer 2 Cheap Cars has been fined $438,000 for its use of “warranty waiver” documents and marketing statements described as “deliberately misleading”.

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Retail's new best friend

  • In association with the IHA Global Innovation Awards (GIA)
  • July 13, 2019
  • Anne Kong
Retail's new best friend

As the heart and soul of retailing further evolves, stores and the essence of shopping will continue to morph in unimaginable ways. However, amidst the storm of change, there is one aspect of shopping that remains pure, constant and motivational – the aspirational moment. Anne Kong, member of the GIA expert jury, shares her thoughts.

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Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

  • News
  • July 12, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

Bendon lingerie is looking to sell some of its brands as the future of the company becomes more uncertain.

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Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Caitlin Salter
Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

The music we love is made up of many influences, including where we live. In its latest campaign, Smirnoff Pure and YoungShand tapped into the unique vibes of New Zealand and set out to help Kiwis discover the music that moves the cities and suburbs they call home.

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Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Elly Strang
Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

Simon Moutter has just wrapped up a seven-year tenure at telecommunications company Spark. Under his rein, the changes the company has gone through are nothing short of radical, from its name (Telecom to Spark), to its operating model (traditional to agile), to its culture (publicly called out to inclusive) to its structure (one monopoly brand to many). Here, Moutter has a candid chat about his journey as CEO, the company's push to be a more diverse and inclusive workplace and how one of his biggest lessons learned was he couldn’t solve a cultural issue with processes and strategy.

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