September 24, 2019 / 6:40 AM / 3 months ago

One in 12 witnessed sexual harassment in Lloyd's insurance market: survey

LONDON (Reuters) - Nearly one in 12 employees working in the Lloyd’s of London [SOLYD.UL] insurance market has witnessed sexual harassment there in the past year and a quarter of them have witnessed excessive drinking, according to survey published by Lloyd’s.

FILE PHOTO: The Lloyd's of London building is lit by winter sun in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The 330-year old market, which employees around 45,000 people in insurance and broking firms in specialist commercial insurance markets such as marine and energy, is trying to improve standards of behavior after reports this year about sexual harassment and daytime drinking.

According to the culture survey of 6,000 employees published on Tuesday, 8% of respondents had seen sexual harassment in the last 12 months, 24% had seen “excessive consumption of alcohol” and 22% had seen people at their firms ignore inappropriate behavior.

Women gave more negative responses than men to questions.

“I don’t think anyone can deny there is a problem to address here,” Lloyd’s Chief Executive John Neal told Reuters by telephone, adding that publishing the survey in its “ugly raw fashion” should help bring about change.

Lloyd’s has already introduced sanctions for poor behavior, including potential life bans on entering its City tower. It said on Tuesday further action would be taken in response to the survey.

Lloyd’s has imposed temporary bans on entry to its building on two people so far, Neal told journalists on the sidelines of an insurance conference. It had also stopped daytime drinking at its in-house bar. Neal said the institution was not planning a formal drinking ban outside its walls.

Neal said Lloyd’s, which acts as a regulator as well as a marketplace, was prepared to withdraw licenses from member firms which did not improve.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, told the conference that the markets watchdog would be “following very closely” Lloyd’s efforts to improve culture, which he said had broader implications for the financial services industry.

To be authorized by the FCA, senior managers have to meet requirements related to culture and conduct of their work.

Lloyd’s said it would introduce a gender balance plan, business conduct requirements and set up an advisory group chaired by Lloyd’s board member Fiona Luck.

One in five survey respondents said they did not believe people working at Lloyd’s had equal opportunities.

“I do think that the U.S. has a much more meritocratic approach,” Luck, an insurance veteran, told the conference.

Of the survey’s respondents, 60% were men and 90% were based in London. Lloyd’s did not give a breakdown of the gender split in the insurance market.

Trade body the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) said it would launch a new network for chief executives to improve reporting of sexual misconduct, after the survey revealed many respondents did not know who to raise concerns with.

The LMA Board, which includes 16 chief executives and other senior market leaders from Lloyd’s managing agents, have committed to receive reports of inappropriate behavior which will then be dealt with in confidence.

“With this constructive resolution we make it very clear that LMA Members will take action at the very highest levels,” LMA CEO Sheila Cameron said.

“Together we can stamp out the remaining poor behaviors.”

Additional reporting by Sinead Cruise and Simon Jessop; Editing by Louise Heavens and Edmund Blair

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