Phillips apologizes but wants to remain WRU boss

Phillips apologizes but wants to remain WRU boss

Chief executive Steve Phillips has said he believes he is the man at the helm of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) after he apologized following accusations of sexism, racism and misogyny.

Phillips, who has faces calls to resign for the allegations of discrimination and bullying, apologized.

He says he hasn’t considered his position following the revelations.

“That’s probably a question for someone else,” Phillips said, referring to WRU’s board, chaired by Ieuan Evans.

When asked if he thinks he is still the man to lead the WRU, Phillips added: “Yeah I think so, because I believe in setting the right tone, setting the right culture, and I think we’re going to create inroads, we’ll learn from some of the feedback we’ve had so far, we’ll dress up everything we’ve done so far.

“We will look back, reflect and consider all positive and negative feedback on how we could improve the organization and continue to better meet the expectations we have from the public.”

In a BBC Wales investigates program, two women complained of a “toxic culture” at WRU, while another former employee heard a racist term used during a work meeting.

Former Wales women’s rugby manager Charlotte Wathan said she was considering suicide and said a male colleague joked in front of others in an office that he wanted the ” violate”. The WRU says the charge has been independently investigated and remains unsubstantiated.

The revelations were condemned by WRU Principality and Admiral sponsors, Sport Wales, the Welsh Government, including First Minister Mark Drakeford, and four Welsh rugby regions and supporters.

The WRU had said it was committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and investigated the claims; Phillips on Tuesday issued an apology for the culture between 2017 and 2019 with his taking over as chief executive in 2020.

“My thoughts on the last 24 hours, probably like everyone else in Wales, just a feeling of being appalled at the content of the program and the allegations made,” Phillips said.

“I have a general feeling of being very sorry for how those people who worked for the WRU felt and a genuine sense of regret that we managed to create a culture between 2017 and 2019 where employees were not not in a position or comfortable enough to approach the WRU and raise their concerns with us.

“Could we have done better? Probably and I think we can always be better but I think I can’t go back but I would like to look ahead and say we will take into account everything that has been said outside.

“We’ve had great feedback from staff about the organization they want to work in.

“We have already started looking at how we seek to improve this and of course once we have completed our staff engagement, what promises we will make and how we will present ourselves as WRU.

“We will then need to engage with the wider group of stakeholders, be it partners, broadcasters, governments, Sport Wales, and restore trust in the privileged position we hold in Wales. .”

Phillips said anyone who used a racist term in a Zoom meeting was “disciplined and subsequently excused.”

Asked if he would welcome a Welsh Government review, he said: “I have no problem with that. I’ve heard something along the lines of a sort of over-policing of all governing bodies.

“I have no idea what it looks like, but in principle I have no problem.”

The WRU boss said he does not believe the organization is currently a sexist, misogynistic and racist body.

“I don’t think the image that was painted last night is representative of today’s WRU and I certainly don’t recognize it as the organization I currently lead,” Phillips added.

“Are we going to have challenges in the future? Probably every organization has them, but the reality is how you deal with the incident, that’s what dictates the culture and how do you react to it and deal with it in a way professional and to the best of your ability as you become aware of any of the allegations.

“I just want to be clear about this: anything to do with homophobic, sexual comments, language, behavior and bullying has no place in the WRU, has no place in the Welsh rugby and certainly has no place in any organization I run.”

Phillips also wrote a letter to Welsh clubs in which he repeated his apologies.

“I know you will have been shocked and appalled by the allegations on the BBC show on Monday evening and I am sorry to see how those who have worked for us feel,” Phillips added.

“Our culture was not where it needed to be, while we had employees who did not feel confident enough to speak up between 2017 and 2019.

“Following this program, we will re-examine the process and procedures we have in place to ensure that all staff feel safe and supported to speak out about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

“The WRU know they have failed to present Welsh rugby to the world in the best light. We have failed to reach the high standards I expect.

“I strongly condemn the use of racist, homophobic or sexist language of any kind and declare in the strongest possible terms that racism, homophobic, sexist or bullying behavior has no place in the Welsh rugby.

“We strive to maintain the highest standards at all times and present a governing body that makes the whole of Wales proud.

“We have consulted with our staff and we will review our structures and procedures to ensure that our employees find a company that is caring and sensitive to their needs and well-being and creates a safe and secure environment for all who come into contact with we. .

“We will use the feedback we are currently receiving to improve, we will listen and learn from what we hear and continue to work hard to ensure Welsh rugby is a game for all with equality, diversity and inclusion at its core. heart.

“The advancement of the female and female game is central to WRU’s strategy and will continue to be so both professionally and community-wise.

“I can’t go back, but I promise you that we will start working immediately to make the necessary changes.

“I will not lead an organization that overrides or excuses any of the behavior described.

“I will not sit idly by and watch a culture that falls below the high standards we have set for ourselves.

“We will review our behavior in all quarters of the WRU, we will never be complacent in this area, not on my watch.

“Much of the recent feedback has been hard to hear, but I implore anyone, anywhere in the game who is affected by any of the issues raised, to contact us immediately.

“I care deeply about this subject, the WRU cares deeply about it and we will act to change wherever we find fault, genuine complaint or grievance. We will do better.”

Phillips described what they are doing now to fix the issues.

“We named Lydia Stirling [the new WRU people director]we looked at our processes, how do we protect our staff,” he added.

“Lydia has made significant progress in this area and after consulting internally and with internal staff, we will again be reviewing this carefully.

“Did we do enough when we implemented the changes at the end of 2021? We just have to keep watching them, looking to improve.

“We will never be complacent in this area and expectations change all the time and we want and will create a safe environment for all employees, especially women.

“We employed Nigel Walker [WRU performance director] and now he’s completely changed a lot of the culture that’s out there, certainly in the women’s game as many have experienced in the past.”

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