Oceanic CEO of accounting giants Ernst and Young David Larocca has been trolled on professional social media website LinkedIn over the suicide of senior auditor, Aishwarya Venkatachalam
The Australian CEO of accounting giant Ernst and Young has been trolled on LinkedIn over the suicide death of a senior auditor after he refused to say her name in a conference call with staff.
David Larocca has come under fire over the Big Four firm’s reaction to Aishwarya Venkatachalam, 27, falling to her death from the 11th floor of the company’s Sydney headquarters.
A recent town hall speech by Mr Larocca to his 9,000 staff was slammed by some workers for not even mentioning Ms Venkatachalam’s name when discussing the fatal incident.
Insiders claimed part of the reason the company was reluctant to use her name was because she went by Venkat, an abbreviated version of her surname, at work.
Mr Larocca had insisted the company was ‘working to maintain space and privacy for Ms Venkatachalam’s family’ – reasoning that did not pass muster with some staff, who complained to Daily Mail Australia.
Now he has been pursued on executive networking site LinkedIn – with a recent online comment by Mr Larocco about a fellow executive’s selfie skills copping a damning three word reply: ‘Say her name’.
The CEO did not reply to the trolling, but the the company issuing a lengthy letter about Ms Venkatachalam and the safety of its CBD headquarters when approached by Daily Mail Australia on Thursday night.
Aishwarya Venkatachalam’s newlywed husband Nakul Mulari was on a flight home from Singapore to Sydney at the time of her death
A troll on LinkedIn replied to the EY CEO David Larocca’s most recent online comment with the simple damning three-word message: ‘Say her name.’ Mr Larocca has not replied to the post
There is no suggestion EY – as Ernst and Young is now called – or Ms Venkatachalam’s co-workers or her superiors were in any way responsible for her death.
‘This has been an incredibly difficult time for the family, friends and colleagues of our audit colleague Aishwarya Venkatachalam, following her tragic death late last month. It has shocked and saddened all of us at EY,’ the statement said.
‘Since the tragic event, we have been consulting with independent experts specialising in workplace culture, healthy work practices and psychological safety to shape the framework for a rigorous and wide-ranging review of EY Australia.
‘We will shortly be announcing details of the firm engaged to undertake this review. We are fully committed to transparency with the findings and implementation of the review recommendations.’
Ms Venkatachalam was at a work drinks function at Sydney’s The Ivy nightclub on August 26 before she later returned to her George St office in the CBD and fell to her death.
The incident sparked a furious backlash against EY’s pressure-packed work culture.
It also raised accusations of racism and bullying among staff, which Ms Venakatachalam had alleged to friends she had faced.
But Mr Larocca’s recent hour-long address to workers spent just four minutes on her death, infuriating many who branded it ‘entitled’, ‘indulgent’ and displaying a ‘tin ear’ to the trauma suffered by staff.
A recent town hall speech by Mr Larocca to his 9,000 staff was slammed by some for not even mentioning Aishwarya Venkatachalam’s name (pictured, an EY careers event in Australia)
The anger increased when he took to LinkedIn to comment on a fellow executive’s picture of himself at a conference, telling him he ‘needs to work on his selfie skills’.
‘EY’s CEO commenting on LinkedIn a week ago to an unrelated public post only days after one of his employees ended her life,’ one worker fumed to Daily Mail Australia.
A poster calling himself Patrick Chaperon, general manager of ‘Victorian Lub Pty Ltd’ then posted the ‘Say her name’ comment.
Others have also relived their grim experiences at EY after Daily Mail Australia revealed how Ms Venkatachalam spoke to Good Samaritans who tried to help her just 30 minutes before she died.
The claims of racism echoed similar comments Aishwarya Venkatachalam (right) had made to friend Neeti Bisht (left) in April that ‘mean colleagues’ had made her new life in Sydney a misery
EY’S FULL GROVELLING LETTER
This has been an incredibly difficult time for the family, friends and colleagues of our audit colleague Aishwarya Venkatachalam, following her tragic death late last month. It has shocked and saddened all of us at EY.
Our guiding principle throughout this tragic time has been to support and respect the wishes and privacy of Aishwarya’s family. Now that many of her personal details have become public, we feel it is appropriate to refer to Aishwarya directly and personally.
Aishwarya’s colleagues knew her as a vibrant, happy and friendly team member and a generous and thoughtful friend who was always caring for others.
The firm owes it to Aishwarya to not only understand fully the nature of her time working with EY but also to ensure that our workplace is as safe and positive as it can be for all our people.
Since the tragic event, we have been consulting with independent experts specialising in workplace culture, healthy work practices and psychological safety to shape the framework for a rigorous and wide-ranging review of EY Australia. We will shortly be announcing details of the firm engaged to undertake this review. We are fully committed to transparency with the findings and implementation of the review recommendations.
We continue to work closely with the police investigating the circumstances of her tragic death. The level 11 terrace of the EY building remains locked and inaccessible while Safe Work NSW is investigating safety matters and a Workplace Health & Safety assessment is carried out.
EY’s leadership remains focused on supporting all our people in every way possible while working through this difficult time. We want to know what we need to learn and change to do better, as we continue our focus on EY being a diverse, inclusive and safe workplace. The findings of the independent review will help us do that.
They found her sobbing uncontrollably in a city centre car park where she told them ‘everyone was so mean to her in her office and that white people are not nice and are mean people and racist.’
It echoed similar comments she had earlier made to her friend Neeti Bisht in April that ‘mean colleagues’ had been making her new life in Sydney a misery.
She told the three women she met in the car park that her house key was in her office but she couldn’t get into the building to collect it and had nowhere else to go.
Her newlywed husband Nakul Mulari, whom she married in a spectacular three-day Tamil-Brahman ceremony in January 2021, was on a flight home from Singapore to Sydney at the time of her death.
Other bystanders helped her back to her office around midnight, but 20 minutes later she plummeted to her death onto the glass and wood awning over the building’s front entrance.
Now others have taken to social media to reveal the racism they say they also faced at the firm.
Bystanders helped Aishwarya Venkatachalam back to her office around midnight, but 20 minutes later she plummeted to her death onto the glass and wood awning over the entrance
Newlywed Aishwarya Venkatachalam, 27, (pictured on her wedding day with husband, Nakul) plunged to her death amid claims she was bullied at work and was a victim of racism
‘This is so EY Sydney,’ posted one person claiming to be a former EY employee. ‘Having experienced working at EY Sydney, I can totally understand this poor woman’s state of mental health.
AISHWARYA’S TRAGIC TIMELINE OF EVENTS
2015: Graduates from Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce in Pune, India
2019: Joins Grant Thornton LLP in Bengaluru, India, as an Audit Senior
January 2021: Marries husband Nakul in Chennai, India
November 2021: Joins EY in Sydney as a Senior Auditor
August 26, 2022: Confusion remains over Aishwarya’s final movements.
Conflicting reports say she left her office at either midday, 5.30pm or 7.30pm to join the EY social club drinks function at The Ivy nightclub.
CCTV is said to show her returning to the office at about 7.30pm. She is said to have been seen moving between offices in the EY building.
At 8pm she spoke on the phone to her husband in Singapore before he got on a flight back to Sydney.
Several hours later, she is found allegedly drunk and distraught in a city centre car park just before midnight.
She claims to have been kicked out of a work function and is unable to access her office to get her house key. Bystanders help back to her EY office building.
August 27, 2022: At about 12.20am she falls to her death from the terrace on the roof of the 10th floor.
Later that day, her husband returns to Sydney from a trip to Singapore to be told of the tragedy.
‘Those days with EY Sydney were just so miserable. One day, I literally broke down cause of unfairness and burnt out and cried so much at home.
‘Luckily I have my family and friends to support me along.’
They added: ‘The partners in that team tend to treat Asian workers like a dog as they expect those workers can always work hard and can deliver more.
‘However, this doesn’t mean that these people can get rewarded in the end and on the contrary, they tend to promote suckers and incapable people.
‘One of the partners at EY Sydney always hires random people he meets in a restaurant or club. And he doesn’t allow any managers above to say any constructive feedback at round table for those special people he has hired.
‘If you do so, you will be in big trouble and you will be blacklisted. It is just so shocking how the practice can be allowed to run like this.
‘The top management at EY Sydney should really take some action towards this toxic culture. Isn’t the EY slogan to build a better working world?’
The tragedy has also caused anger among the Indian community, with some dismayed that Ms Venkatachalam felt she had no support from local compatriots.
Management consultant Sri Annaswamy has lived in Australia for 30 years but said it was ‘disgusting and disappointing’ that he couldn’t find anyone who knew her or her family, ‘including senior people at her own firm here in Sydney,’ he said.
‘This state of apathy in our Indian-Australian community is remarkable,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Thanks for at least breaking this heartrending story, I’m very grateful otherwise we would not have known about this at all. Yes, WE failed Aishwarya…no question.
‘How is it even possible that despite becoming a part of our Indian-Australian community for almost a year, she felt that she didn’t have anybody that she could confide in, trust and stay with (even till her husband’s flight landed!!)?
‘Community uncles, aunties, friends, Indian work colleagues – no-one.’
In a post to LinkedIn, he added: ‘A full week has passed since the Daily Mail article [but] not a single Indian-Australian Association President, community bigwig, community stalwart could be bothered even commenting on this
‘Not even condolences to the family or flower wreaths outside the place where she took her tragic end.
‘Even on LinkedIn, this is the only post from Australia referencing the tragic plight and wondering what our community could have done.
‘I can’t even trace them through our own little Tamil-Brahmin community here. clearly our community has become a self-centred and insular lot.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Ernst and Young for comment.
Aishwarya Ventkat and husband Nakul Murali married in a spectacular three-day Tamil-Brahman ceremony in January 2021
READ ERNST & YOUNG CEO DAVID LAROCCA’S FULL ADDRESS HERE:
I want to start by acknowledging the deeply sad incident here in Sydney.
I know all of you are deeply shocked and saddened. I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic death of one of our Sydney assurance team members last week.
We had a really difficult week, made even more distressing for many by the reporting in the press.
Our entire focus, entire focus, has been on supporting everyone impacted by this starting with her family, everyone at EY that’s been directly impacted, and our broader EY community.
And as Andrew said, we continue to support everyone through various mechanisms, including EAP. So please do reach out, if you’re one of those people.
Some of you may also have read the name of the individual in the media and at the family’s request, we’ve been working to maintain space and privacy so this is why we aren’t mentioning her name, we’re really taking guidance from her family. So I wanted to make sure you all knew that as well.
We’ve also received feedback and questions on why haven’t we explained what happened. And again, we’re being respectful of our colleagues family. And we’ll also have a police investigation that’s still underway.
So I know this makes things uncomfortable. But I’m explaining why. And I hope you will understand that and respect that.
We continue to work closely with the police on the investigation, and we’re doing everything possible to support our team members who have been involved in the police investigations and that will also continue.
On the media, we are taking an ethical approach. Others aren’t, we are, particularly around reporting of self harm incidents. And we are, I can let you know, we are considering avenues around this through regulatory bodies, around the media. So I want you to know that we’re doing that too.
And the more recent allegations in the media, I just want to say that we have zero tolerance for bullying, harassment, and racism.
And I hope I don’t need to say that, because I hope you all know that. But I wanted to make sure that you all heard that for me as well.
More broadly, every day, I’ve seen and been part of conversations where people have really cared for each other, looked out for each other.
I ask you to continue to do that. I know you all, in your own way have done your little bit. So please continue to do that.
And as you heard from me last week, I’ve announced a comprehensive and wide ranging, independent review, which will be forward looking, around what can we learn from what’s happened.
So we’re still refining the scope, but it will look at security and safety of our premises, how we work, including how we connect at social functions, and the mental health and wellbeing supports that we have at EY.
And I want to assure you, as I said last week that we will work diligently, carefully, but at speed. And we’ll let you know. We’ll be transparent on the outcomes as soon as we can.
And we’ll do that as and when things are moved as well we’ll wait for the end, and we’ll be supported every step of the way.
As we have been through this process by Jono, who will join me in a second, I will provide many opportunities for all of you, all of our people to contribute. And we’ll share the findings and actions as I said, as we work through the process.
I know these can be distressing times. And if you or any of your teams need support, please again, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, to the ELT (Executive Leadership Team) to your leaders, and directly to the EAP (Employee Assistance Program).
And as I said last week, I’ve really had to draw on supports in the past week, particularly my family, members of the ELT, Jono, so we encourage you all to do the same.