Remaining Big Four follow Deloitte in revealing partners fired for inappropriate conduct

Remaining Big Four follow Deloitte in revealing partners fired for inappropriate conduct

A total of 37 Big Four partners have been let go for sexual harassment and other bullying claims as the industry shows support for #MeToo

Following Deloitte’s admittance that 20 partners were terminated over the last four years for inappropriate behaviour, PwC, EY, and KPMG have all followed suit.

At the weekend, Big Four firm Deloitte revealed that around 20 partners had been fired from its firm in the last four years because of bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace in the interests of transparency and showing they will not tolerate this behaviour.

Partners at the global professional services business, who earn £832,000 a year on average, were reportedly believing it was acceptable to proposition junior members of staff at bars outside of work.

After originally not sharing its numbers, the remaining Big Four firms have now shared the number of partners they have fired recently for the same reasons.

KPMG came out first to admit that seven partners have been let go from the financial services firm in the last four years for behaving inappropriately in the workplace.

Anna Purchas, head of people at KPMG, told City A.M. that partners who had been terminated had failed to “meet the standards we expect of our people” and the firm has now enhanced its efforts to prevent misconduct like this.

Purchas added: “When we receive reports of behaviour that contravenes our policy we have set a disciplinary process and where allegations are upheld, we have taken a range of actions including dismissal.”

In a final reveal, EY and PwC both released statements saying five partners from each firm had been dismissed over the last four years for similar inappropriate conduct.

Thinking about firms outside of the Big Four, Grant Thornton told the Financial Times that none of its partners had been let go due to harassment or bullying in the last four years, while the sixth biggest firm, BDO, said one of its partners had been dismissed for breaching its code of conduct as a partner.

What does #MeToo mean for accountancy?

The Me Too movement burst onto our social media properly in October 2017, though the concept had been around long before that. It came about as a means for people to share their personal experiences of sexual harassment and assault and therefore spread the magnitude of the problem. Then when the Harvey Weinstein case came to light, it focused on the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Now that we are more than a year down the line, the impact of Me Too is really starting to show. Behaviour that may have been tolerated in the workplace in the past, is no longer accepted and more and more people are beginning to get on board with this.

As we have seen with the Big Four revealing how many partners they have had to fire, accountancy firms, like other businesses, are not standing for inappropriate behaviour. They are also beginning to accept that they must be transparent when instances do arise. KPMG, EY, and PwC, all followed Deloitte in shared the number of partners they have let go for these reasons because they realised it would put them in a bad light to keep quiet.

Me Too has opened up a conversation that was previously closed and secretive. As time goes on, it will encourage more and more people who are assaulted in a professional environment to tell someone about it.

Traditionally, accusing someone at work, especially if they are high up, would instil fear of humiliation or even job loss in victims. While there is still a way to go and many victims may continue to feel like this, progress is taking place. Inappropriate behaviour will no longer be tolerated.

 

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