Karen Maher

Karen Maher is a workplace culture transformer. She is passionate about the prevention of bullying and sexual harassment and focuses on the fundamentals to inspire and transform cultures into great and productive places to work.

Her experience spans over 20 years, firstly as an employment and safety lawyer in Australia and the UK, and then through her own consultancy formed in 2010 and more recently as a keynote speaker. She has worked on over 300 cases from all parts of the process including legal, investigations, advisory and process improvement, including working with many organisations during times of crisis and even following workplace fatalities.

As an evolution of her experience, Karen has developed an innovative culture model SmartCulture®. This model is a world-first and includes effective strategies and foundations applicable to any organisation ready to evolve and transform their culture and go to the next level and get ahead of the game with engagement, retention, productivity and creating great, safe and respectful places to work.

Karen speaks and partners with a diverse range of industries and organisations. From the NRL to emergency services, retail, tech companies, hospitals, charities, manufacturing, legal and accounting firms, hospitality, government agencies, private schools, construction and mining.

Speaking topics

Workplace Bystanders – Putting a Stop to Poor Behaviours for Good.

Workplace bullying and sexual harassment continue to be a serious problems across the globe and are workplace health and safety hazards.

In this keynote, leading WHS Consultant Karen Maher will share her insight and key strategies on how we can put a stop to bullying and harassment, focusing on the game-changing Workplace Bystander Intervention Approach. Including practical guidance on how to start successfully implementing this approach within your organisation today to pave the way for a safer and more respectful workplace.

Karen is a former WHS + employment lawyer and is the founder of SmartCulture® and has worked with organisations for many years in this space with incredible results. She will cover the fundamentals of the Workplace Bystander Invention Approach, why it works and simple strategies on how it works best.

Key learnings:

  • Understanding the fundamentals of the Workplace Bystander Intervention Approach - and why it works!
  • The 5Ds of Bystander Intervention
  • Simple strategies to implement right now to get this approach working within your organisation pronto.

Psychological Safety - Creating a Speak Up Culture

We all know the consequences that can occur within organisations when people don’t feel safe and supported to speak up about concerns they have. Notwithstanding this, the fear of speaking up in our workplaces is still very real. Having a workplace where people can speak freely without fear of humiliation, punishment or other negative consequences, is important for people to feel empowered to share their perspectives and ideas.

In this keynote, leading Australian WHS expert Karen Maher deep dives into “psychological safety”, explaining what it is, and how we can create and instil this important concept within our workplaces. You will benefit from real case studies and practical examples. More importantly, there will be takeaways that you can put into practice immediately.

Key learnings:

  • What is ‘psychological safety’ and why every organisation needs it
  • The advantages of building psychologically safe workplaces
  • Practical strategies to encourage a Speak Up Culture within your organisation

Saying “goodbye” to sexual harassment and ‘hello’ to respect at work

In 2020 the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) recently released their final report on the landmark National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. According to the findings, we still have a very long way to go to eliminate sexual harassment at work in Australia. This work will not be easy, but it is necessary. We must face these issues head-on, and Karen has devised ways to do so.

During this presentation, Karen will deep dive into her proven strategies, drawing extensively on her twenty years of experience in this space and offering actions that will drastically reduce the risk of sexual harassment within your organisation.

Key learnings:

  • The pivotal role of awareness and effective education in getting this right beyond #MeToo
  • The key learnings from the AHRC National Inquiry and what they mean in real terms for your organisation
  • 5 effective strategies and tools to guide your leaders and organisation on proactive leadership to reduce sexual harassment at work for good. It’s about respect and safety.

Creating a SmartCulture® – Because good culture is good business

It’s true, a great culture isn’t magic. It takes dedication, authenticity, and a plan.

During this presentation Karen will share the five fundamental components of the SmartCulture® model and how each one relates to your workplace transformation and ultimate success.

Key learnings:

  • How the five essential pillars that add up to SmartCulture® (safety, measurable, awareness, respect & team)
  • Why a Good Culture is absolutely good business
  • Why authentic leadership is vital to building a great workplace culture in this new world of work.

Workplace Bullying is on the rise – Time to put a lid on it

Workplace bullying statistics in Australia were already concerning and now with all of the additional stressors arising from these challenging times, they are skyrocketing.

The negative impacts from poor workplace behaviours are simply enormous. They impact health and safety, morale, culture, productivity and so much more.

In this presentation Karen will share her insight and refocus your teams and leaders on the importance of respectful behaviours at work to minimise the risk of bullying and enhance your culture.

Key learnings:

  • Understanding the key risk areas right now with workplace bullying and psychological safety
  • 5 key strategies to assist organisations to put a lid on workplace bullying, keep people safe and protect your workplace culture
  • Why prevention and authentic leadership are key to win the game against workplace bullying.


Karen Maher is an engaging communicator who is extremely passionate and well-informed; evident in the way she discusses topics and the breadth of the knowledge she imparts. We have had excellent feedback from many staff who attended the session, including our own CEO, about how the session was run. This session will allow us to cultivate a more informed, respectful workforce.
Juliette Salmon, HR Coordinator
Ainslie Group

Communication with Karen was so thorough and efficient from the start. She took the time to understand our business in a pre-session conference and the session was tailored specifically for our workplace. Our senior managers were engaged and we were very impressed with Karen’s experience and passion to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace before it’s too late. If you are looking to get your management team onboard with preventing bullying in your workplace do not look past Karen’s sessions.
Mandy Pement, HR Coordinator
SIKA Australia

At Stedmans, we were looking to improve our workplace culture and introduce a bullying and harassment program for all of our staff.

Due to the nature of our business model we needed someone who could drive this and had a solid understanding of the hospitality sector.

Karen came to the table with this experience and was able to deliver an exceptional program. Not only does Karen have experience in hospitality and law, she also has a great deal of compassion and is someone I can trust implicitly to deliver an exceptional session
Nicholas Luhman - HR & Recruitment Manager
Stedmans Hospitality

Karen Maher speaker

Speaker Video

Introduction to Karen Maher

Introduction to Karen Maher

Evolve Your Workplace Culture Pronto

Evolve Your Workplace Culture Pronto

Karen Maher - Workplace Safety

Karen Maher - Workplace Safety

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