Sexist Behaviour at ON Power 'a Can of Worms' Skip to content

Sexist Behaviour at ON Power ‘a Can of Worms’

Berglind Rán Ólafsdóttir has been appointed CEO of ON Power, subsidiary of Reykjavík Energy after former CEO Bjarni Már Júlíusson was fired due to misogynistic conduct last week, RÚV reports. It had previously been announced that Þórður Ásmundsson would assume the position but the board of Reykjavík Energy was informed that Þórður had been accused of ‘serious sexual misconduct’. Bjarni Bjarnason, CEO of Reykjavík Energy, has temporarily stepped down while the ‘workplace culture’ is looked at.

Þórður had been working as a director within the On Power. Last Thursday, it was announced that he would be temporarily appointed CEO of ON Power but late last Friday, the management of Reykjavík Energy were informed that Þórður had been accused of serious sexual misconduct. Þórður is currently on leave. RÚV has confirmed that the accusations of sexual misconduct are not connected to his work at ON Power and the alleged misconduct is supposed to have taken place before he started working there.

Other complaints of sexual harassment have also surfaced, such as the matter of Reykjavík Energy’s financial director Ingvar Stefánsson, who received a written warning after sexually harassing two female colleagues at a company event in 2015, according to RÚV. He has confirmed the claim but has stated that he has regretted the event ever since and that he immediately sought treatment for his alcoholism and other issues. City council members Hildur Björnsdóttir and Þórdís Lóa Þórhallsdóttir confirmed in an interview with RÚV that since the matter became public they had received a considerable amount of stories of inappropriate behaviour towards the staff of Reykjavík Energy. Hildur is a Reykjavík Energy board member. She stated that “In the wake of this case, I’ve received a considerable amount of information and accounts that paint a picture of a harmful working environment. There’s every reason to investigate further to see if this situation is normal.” Þórdís told RÚV, “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this. I think more and more cases are coming to the surface from within Reykjavík Energy and other companies in the same vein. A can of worms has been opened and I think it’s important that we deal with the matter with discipline and composure.”

The state of internal affairs at ON Power first raised attention when Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir spoke up about the CEO’s misogynistic behaviour over a period of 18 months and was fired for doing so. In a Facebook post, Áslaug claimed that Bjarni Bjarnason had known about her several complaints for months but done nothing about them because Bjarni Már ‘had been running the company so well’. Bjarni Bjarnason asked to step down of his own accord, according to Vísir. In an announcement, he wished that all matters that have arisen would be looked into and that the workplace culture of the company would be investigated.

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