Board of Simon Henrys company DGL to review culture, top pay structure after sexist Nadia Lim comments

DGL Group says it will appoint an advisory firm to conduct a “thorough, independent” review of its culture after its chief executive, Simon Henry, called celebrity chef Nadia Lim “a bit of Eurasian fluff”.

It also intends to review the company’s senior executive pay structure.

The company’s remuneration committee would come up with a plan to implement “a balanced scorecard approach for assessing at-risk remuneration”.

The target date to implement the approach was July 1.

The Australian chemicals company, 57 per cent owned by Henry, a New Zealander, said in a statement to the ASX it was “determined to ensure respect for diversity and inclusion is embedded firmly through DGL Group’s culture at all levels”.

The board of the ASX and NZX-listed company said it had previously stated that Henry’s comments were offensive and unacceptable.

They were also inconsistent with the cultural values expected of an organisation like DGL, the board has said.

The company was determined to ensure its adherence to ESG principles aligned with market expectations, the ASX statement said.

“To this end, the board has commenced a process leading to the appointment of a suitable advisory firm to conduct a thorough independent review of DGL’s culture and recommend any changes necessary to ensure the culture reflects key values.”

DGL’s share price on the NZX has fallen 20 per cent, or 80c, in the past five trading days. It closed at $3.20.

The statement said Henry had apologised to Lim, the board, employees and by extension all stakeholders for his remarks and “the board acknowledges his genuine regret”.

Henry understood the importance of his own conduct in setting standards across the company, it said.

“He is fully supportive of, and will participate in, this process initiated by the board.”

Henry is an executive director on the board, as well as chief executive of DGL.

Last month, Henry criticised My Food Bag for including a photo of Lim in its prospectus, calling her “Eurasian fluff”.

He claimed her “cleavage” was displayed to distract from the company’s underperformance.

Six days later, Lim confirmed she had received an email apology from Henry.

“It was accompanied by an offer for Nadia to call him which will not be acted on,” said Lim’s spokeswoman, Deborah Pead.

While Henry had claimed to have called the celebrity chef several times, “Nadia’s phone records will confirm she neither received nor missed a call from him”.

In an Instagram post, Lim, who was initially reluctant to talk about the incident, shared why she decided to change her mind and speak out against Henry’s comments.

She referenced a conversation she had with a young Asian woman and the hurt she remembered seeing in her own father’s eyes from previous racist incidents.

She added: “It hit me yesterday when I was sitting opposite a young woman of Asian blood, like myself, on the plane and we both smiled at each other.

“Then what came over me was a feeling of sadness when I started thinking about what she might feel when reading or hearing comments like that and how, over time, it could potentially be so damaging to someone’s self-confidence and idea of their self-worth.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Henry’s comments not only did a complete disservice to Lim, but would be insulting to all women.

“Ultimately, the success of Nadia Lim speaks for itself.”

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