Lloyd’s in another culture shock

Lloyd’s managing agency Atrium has been hit with a fine of over £1 million after admitting a series of failures and a culture in which some senior managers attended “boys nights out” at which female staff were harassed.

The London market has long been battling to stamp unacceptable culture and incidents of drink-fuelled misbehaviour have been heavily featured in the media. Atriums actions prompted a scathing statement from Lloyd’s CEO John Neal who warned that the market’s zero tolerance to bad behaviour would only intensify.

Atrium has been hit with a fine of £1,050,000 and costs of £562,713.50 for series of breaches involving one employee found guilty of “systematic bullying” of a junior employee which stretched over years, and the now infamous boys nights out.

Neal said: “We are deeply disappointed by the behaviour highlighted by this case, and I want to be clear that discrimination, harassment and bullying have no place at Lloyd’s. The robust action we have taken today, including the largest fine ever imposed by the Lloyd’s Enforcement Board, shows that we will not tolerate poor conduct in our market. Lloyd’s expects all participants in the market to meet the highest standards of professionalism, and we are continuing to use our powers to intervene when needed.

“Everyone in the Lloyd’s market and Corporation should expect to work in a culture where they feel safe, valued, and respected and if they see unacceptable behaviours, to speak up with confidence, in the knowledge that action will be taken.”

Christopher Stooke, independent non-executive chairman at Atrium, issued a statement in which he admitted the firm should have done more.

“We fully accept the rulings made by Lloyd’s of London,” he said. “With deep regret, it is clear that Atrium failed to live up to its values and serious errors were made when handling these matters. We are sorry for the hurt that this caused and how difficult this been for those affected. The behaviour outlined in the Notice of Censure has no place in our business or our industry, and we recognise that we must go further to ensure that this situation is never allowed to happen again.”

The Lloyd’s Notice of Censure said Atrium was guilty of a string of failures involving a member of staff who was identified as Employee A.

“Employee A’s general conduct was well known within Atrium, including by senior managers, but no adequate steps were taken to deal with it,” The notice said.  “Employee A’s behaviour included a systematic campaign of bullying against a junior employee over a number of years. Atrium failed adequately to protect the junior employee once it became aware of the bullying.”

It added: “Atrium failed to investigate Employee A’s conduct and apply appropriate disciplinary measures. Atrium failed properly to identify and investigate complaints made by another employee about Employee A in accordance with its policies in force at the relevant time, and thereby also failed adequately to protect the employee.”

The notice said Atrium had launched its own investigation which found Employee A guilty of a serious misconduct. However rather than disciplining the member of staff the company negotiated a settlement package with Employee A and allowed him to resign from Atrium rather than face disciplinary sanction.

To add insult to injury at the conclusion of the internal investigation, Atrium commenced an investigation “into what were and ought to have been treated as retaliatory and victimising complaints made by Employee A against the employee who had raised a complaint against him”.

Atrium was also censured for “sanctioning and tolerating over a period of a number of years up until 2018 an annual ‘Boys’ Night Out’ during which some male members of staff, (including two senior executives in leadership roles) engaged in unprofessional and inappropriate conduct, including initiation games, heavy drinking and making inappropriate and sexualised comments about female colleagues, which were both discriminatory and harassing to female members of staff.

“Some of this conduct was led, participated in and condoned, by the two senior managers in attendance.”

The Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) chairman, Andrew Brooks, said the association fully supported the action taken, praising those members of staff who had the courage to speak out.

“The judgement by the Lloyd’s Enforcement Board and the penalties levied against Atrium send an unequivocal message: bullying, harassment and other forms of inappropriate behaviour have no place in the Lloyd’s market,” he said. “We applaud those individuals who had the courage to speak up.”

“We are deeply disappointed by the behaviour highlighted by this case, and I want to be clear that discrimination, harassment and bullying have no place at Lloyd’s. The robust action we have taken today, including the largest fine ever imposed by the Lloyd’s Enforcement Board, shows that we will not tolerate poor conduct in our market.’’

John Neal, Lloyd’s

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