Lloyd's market takes action on sexual harassment

Out-Law News | 28 Mar 2019 | 2:32 pm | 2 min. read

People working in the Lloyd's insurance market face potential lifetime expulsion if they are found responsible for sexual harassment, the market has confirmed.

The sanction has been endorsed by Lloyd’s Board and Council, and by the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) and the London & International Insurance Brokers Association (LIIBA) which represent the Lloyd’s market, as part of a package of measures set out to "create a safe and inclusive working environment".

The measures have been set out in response to recent reports from 18 women, published by Bloomberg Businessweek, who described "an atmosphere of near-persistent harassment" centred on the Lloyd's exchange. The vast majority of people who work in the building are not Lloyd's employees.

Lloyd's has already promised to listen to the accounts of the women who spoke to Bloomberg "in a safe and confidential space", and in a new statement issued on Tuesday it confirmed that "where investigations conclude that individuals have a case to answer, they will be subject to sanctions from their own companies and also from Lloyd’s" and that this may see them "banned from entering Lloyd’s for a fixed period and potentially for life".

Among the other actions planned is a new independent mechanism for reporting "inappropriate behaviour", and a "comprehensive review of policies and practices across the Lloyd’s market". Lloyd's also said that it will commission "an independent and market-wide culture survey to identify the scale and scope" of inappropriate behaviour and to "inform further action". Training will also be provided to help prevent cases of inappropriate behaviour, it said.

Lloyd's chief executive John Neal said: "It has been distressing to hear about the experiences of women in the Lloyd’s market. No one should be subjected to this sort of behaviour, and if it does happen, everyone has the right to be heard and for those responsible to be held to account. I am pleased that the market has given its full support for a strong set of actions, and I am determined that Lloyd’s offers a safe and inclusive working environment for everyone."

Financial services employment law expert Jon Fisher of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "Lloyd’s response to the reports is welcome. Firms which participate in the market will need to ensure that they at least match the best practice Lloyd’s establishes. This will require constant vigilance to make sure that policies are fit for purpose and are properly enforced."

Fisher previously said that Lloyd's had already recognised that "steps needed to be taken to address the culture in the insurance industry". Last year, it launched the 'Inclusive Behaviours Pledge' as a public commitment by insurers and brokers to "a culture where inclusive behaviours are the norm and where everyone is accepting of diversity".

Lloyd's has confirmed that it has made changes to its nominations committee to increase diversity.

UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has urged employees in the financial services sector to report any complaints about workplace sexual harassment, regardless of any contractual 'gagging orders' put in place by their employer. FCA director Megan Butler wrote to the House of Commons' Women and Equalities Committee last year, confirming the regulator's view of sexual harassment as "misconduct which falls within the scope of our regulatory framework".

Butler previously told the committee that the FCA intends to use the senior managers and certification regime (SMCR) to hold financial firms to account for sexual harassment. The FCA also expects firms to take the behaviour of individuals into account as part of the 'fit and proper' assessment required under these rules.