September 21, 2019

Here Is More Proof That EY Switzerland Is a Total Frat House

Well, guys, we learned today that at an EY Switzerland holiday party a few years ago, Santa Claus got an erotic lap dance on stage in front of about 200 people. And the man dressed like jolly ol’ Saint Nick is a partner in the firm’s banking practice, and the woman grinding on his lap was his secretary.

This little holiday performance was reported today by Zurich financial news website Inside Paradeplatz and confirmed to Going Concern by a person who said they attended that party. Another tipster told us:

“[This] is probably the stupidest thing to do for your career at EY except hitting Mr. Weinberger in the face with a baseball bat.

“It seemed like this stupid fuck could get away with his stupidity, due to his excellent relationship with the CEO of EY Switzerland, Mr. [Marcel] Stalder.”

While neither the partner nor the secretary were disciplined by the firm (that we’re aware of), the partner is reportedly leaving EY for a job at management consulting firm Bain & Company, where he has connections, we were told.

And today’s lap-dance revelation comes at a time when sexual harassment allegations made by a former EY Switzerland female associate are being investigated by an independent law firm. Kinda makes you wonder about the culture, or “ecosystem,” Stalder’s got going on at EY Switzerland. One of our tipsters believes Stalder is “dead meat due to his idiotic attempt to cover up the harassment case.”

According to Inside Paradeplatz, the 2015 holiday party lap dance is still being talked about by people at EY Switzerland, and not in a good way, as some employees found it “tasteless”:

[Article translated from German to English]

Three years ago in December, EY Switzerland threw one of their legendary parties for employees in a restaurant in Zurich-Nord. There were around 150 to 200 EY employees. There was an official part with speeches and performances by the chefs before going over to drinking and dancing.

One of EY’s best-known partners dressed as Samichlaus was sitting on a chair on stage. Then his secretary sat on his lap, and the two performed a role-playing game … .

The leadership of EY found nothing wrong. … Otherwise, after the spectacle, photos of the scene would not have been hung for weeks in the EY building at Prime Tower in Circle 5.

The secretary posted several photos of the lap dance “all over” the fourth floor of EY’s offices in Zurich, we were told, and they weren’t taken down for several weeks until some employees complained to management.

One of our sources told us:

“This behavior is totally out of line in Switzerland corporate culture. In 20 professional years, I have not heard of a similar public event in consulting or financial services.”

When asked about the holiday party lap dance, Yvonne Diaz, EY’s global media relations director, emailed Going Concern the following statement:

“EY is committed to a workplace free of discrimination and harassment of any kind. We are currently thoroughly investigating allegations concerning a Swiss partner and former employee. All new information brought to our attention in relation with these matters will form part of this investigation. We take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously. Once we conclude our investigation, strong disciplinary actions will be taken against anyone we determine to have violated our policies and/or our Code of Conduct.”

An outside law firm is currently investigating sexual harassment allegations made against a managing partner/chief talent officer at EY Switzerland, who was suspended by the firm last December pending the outcome of the investigation. A former female associate claims that in 2016, the male executive made inappropriate comments about her breasts, made sexual advances toward her, and then bullied her when she rejected him.

The sexual harassment claims were investigated by EY Switzerland in 2016 and also reviewed in 2018 following a report to the firm’s ethics hotline. The firm found the allegations to be not credible at that time but reopened the investigation after “recent news coverage has presented new claims and allegations,” the firm said in an internal email.

We learned that Stefan Marc Schmid is the chief talent officer at EY Switzerland. An Inside Paradeplatz report in December did not name Schmid as the EY executive accused of sexual harassment, but it did refer to him as “S.” and said, “As the talent officer of EY Switzerland, he was in charge of all personnel matters. He sat on the management board of the Swiss national company.”

According to Schmid’s LinkedIn profile, which has since been deleted, he is a managing partner and the chief talent officer at EY Switzerland, and it states that he is a member of the Swiss executive management team at EY.

The sexual harassment allegations at EY Switzerland came to light just days after EY in the United Kingdom revealed that the firm had fired five partners over the past four years for inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment and bullying.

EY U.S. was also at the center of two sexual harassment complaints last year by former female partners.

Last April, Jessica Casucci filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing fellow partner John Martinkat of sexually assaulting her in front of two other male partners in a hotel bar in Orlando while they were on a business trip in 2015.

After the encounter, Martinkat continued the harassment with calls, texts, and emails asking Casucci to come to his hotel room to have sex.

Casucci and EY reached a settlement in May. As part of the settlement, Casucci agreed to leave the firm. Monetary terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Martinkat was eventually fired by EY.

Then in September 2018, Karen Ward filed a complaint with the EEOC, accusing EY of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation. She alleges that her first supervisor at EY, principal Michael McNamara, made lewd comments about her breasts, frequently suggested that she accompany him to strip clubs, texted her at 2 a.m. while on a work trip asking her to meet him for drinks, and regularly used offensive language around her.

McNamara was fired by EY in 2015.

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