Partners in Deloitte fired for inappropriate behaviour

Partners in Deloitte fired for inappropriate behaviour

The other Big Four firms are refusing to reveal the number of partners they have let go for misconduct in the same time frame

Big Four firm Deloitte has revealed it has fired approximately 20 partners in the UK in the last four years on the grounds of inappropriate behaviour.

This behaviour includes sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.

The reveal marks the first time a member of the Big Four accountancy firms has publicly shared how many senior people have been terminated for this reason.

Deloitte’s chief executive, David Sproul, told the Financial Times: “We will fire people for any inappropriate behaviour. No one is protected.”

Publishing these figures aligns with the growth of the #MeToo movement which has, in the past year, exposed the extent of sexual harassment women have faced at work.

Deloitte, which placed second in the Accountancy Age Top 50+50 ranking and has 969 UK partners according to this year’s results, has promised it is emphasising the importance of its guidance around appropriate conduct at work including socialising with colleagues outside the workplace.

The firm has introduced some initiatives off the back of the #MeToo movement, including compulsory ‘respect and inclusion training’, a helpline, and a video series where employees anonymously shared why an experience made them uncomfortable.

Sproul said to the Financial Times of the video series: “It was probably one of the most powerful things we did because it caused people to realise that…something some people would have thought was just banter was massively offensive to the person hearing that banter.”

Deloitte, which has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to inappropriate behaviour from clients towards staff, is urging other firms to take this on board, saying it is unacceptable to ignore the problem.

The remaining Big Four firms, while they did comment on this issue, have not yet revealed how many partners have been fired for inappropriate behaviour.

PwC said of the issues around inappropriate behaviour at work: “We’re committed to creating an inclusive, fair and diverse business and do not tolerate harassment or bullying.

“We regularly update our policies and recently established a new inclusive and positive workplace policy and additional guidance for our people on areas such as standards of expected behaviour and behaviour at social events.”

KPMG UK’s head of people, Anna Purchas, told the Financial Times that, in response to the #MeToo movement, it has reviewed policies around sexual harassment at work as well as running an internal campaign to highlight “how seriously the firm takes this topic and ensure there was absolute clarity about acceptable standards of behaviour.”

EY, also speaking to the Financial Times, said it takes “any allegations of harassment in the workplace very seriously. Ensuring our people feel safe, included, and valued is part of our culture and this is a responsibility we are committed to uphold.”

Speaking in a LinkedIn article earlier, Sproul continued the conversation: “When you’re trying to change things in business, particularly behaviours that have been entrenched for years, progress can be both a cause for celebration and frustration.”

As Sproul nears the end of his time as CEO he added: “As I hand over the reins to my successor, my message will be clear: inclusion needs to be at the heart of business culture, with commitment and attention from all levels within a business.

“The #MeToo movement has shone a light on culture – we need business to do the same.”

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