Bullying and sexual harassment – Lloyds of London firm fined £1m

Lloyd’s enforcement team heard how over some time, senior leaders joined the ‘boys’ nights out’, condoning heavy drinking, initiation games and sexual comments about female staff members. This led to one of the firms being fined £1m.

Atrium Underwriters admitted that some of their senior leaders had participated in lewd behaviour, along with bullying and misconduct.

The ‘boy’s nights out’ had taken place over several years until 2018. The firm apologised and stated that such behaviour would not be tolerated in the future.

Lloyd’s disciplinary committee said that the fine of £1,050,000 was the largest ever imposed. It was also a first for non-financial misconduct. Atrium will also be required to pay Lloyd’s costs of £562,714.

During the investigation, it came to light that the nights out were discriminatory and harassing to female staff members. 

It was noted that one male employee had carried out a ‘systematic campaign of bullying a junior member over several years. The junior employee preferred to remain unnamed and was labelled as Employee A in the report.

Lloyds noted that even though Atrium was aware of the bullying which went on, they failed to either investigate or take disciplinary action. They also failed to adequately protect Employee A. Instead, they negotiated a settlement package with him, allowing him to resign rather than face disciplinary sanctions.

The report stated that previously Atrium had shown a good disciplinary record. They had at all times co-operated with Lloyd’s inquiry and enforcement proceedings.

The report went on to note that Atrium had recently implemented changes. This included updating the policies and procedures with all disciplinary matters. These also included whistleblowing, diversity and inclusion, guidance, and training for senior managers.

Mr John Neal, Lloyd’s chief executive said that the company was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the behaviour reported in this case. Mr Neal said that he wanted to be very clear that discrimination, bullying, and harassment have no place at Lloyd’s.

Independent non-executive chairman at Atrium, Mr Christopher Stooke, said that the company had failed to live up to its values. Additionally, they had made serious errors in handling the matter. 

‘This behaviour has no place in our business or in our industry. The company recognises that we need to go further to ensure that situations like this never happen again.’

Lloyds stated in 2019 that they were determined to tackle their male-dominated culture. This statement was made after one in twelve employees reported that they had witnessed sexual harassment.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) states that employers will be held liable if they do not take all reasonable steps to prevent staff from being sexually harassed at work.

Current legislation states that although employers are already expected to do this, there will be a new, proactive duty on employers. This will include commitments to protect staff from being subjected to lewd and inappropriate behaviour by both colleagues and third parties.

Liz Truss, minister for women and equalities said that ‘every woman should be able to live without fear of harassment or violence, both in the workplace and in fact anywhere else.’

The ‘package of measures’ is designed to not only improve protection for women at work but also motivate employers to make further improvements to the workplace culture and practice which will be beneficial to all staff members.   


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