We learned on Dec. 9 that Deloitte U.K. had fired about 20 partners in the past four years for inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment and bullying. The Financial Times, which broke the story, had asked the other Big 4 firms in the U.K. if they would disclose similar information. They declined.
But KPMG, PwC, and EY eventually realized that not responding would be a pretty dumb PR move. So in an article published on Dec. 10, KPMG told the Financial Times that in the past four years, seven of its U.K. partners left the firm due to inappropriate behavior. And today, Economia reported that PwC U.K. sacked five of its partners in the last three years and EY U.K. fired five partners over the past four years for sexual harassment and/or bullying.
As with Deloitte, we don’t know whether the partners who were fired at KPMG, PwC, and EY were all or mostly men.
What about in the U.S.? Going Concern asked each of the Big 4 firms this morning if they will be disclosing similar information as their U.K. counterparts. Haven’t heard back from any of them yet. We’re not holding our breath. But if we do get a response, we’ll let you guys know.
Spurred on by the #MeToo movement, several former female professionals at Big 4 firms in the U.S. have shared their stories this year of alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault, discrimination, and retaliation by male partners.
Ex-EY partners Jessica Casucci and Karen Ward went public with their sexual harassment allegations against the firm in complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, while an unnamed former Deloitte Bermuda staffer accused a senior partner from the firm’s New York office of sexually assaulting her in a Bermuda hotel room three years ago. Then there were instances of alleged sexual harassment and assault detailed in a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a group of former and current KPMG female tax and advisory professionals against the firm.
The two EY executives at the center of Casucci’s and Ward’s allegations, partner John Martinkat and principal Michael McNamara, were eventually fired by the firm, while the Deloitte U.S. partner, whose identity has not been made public, still works for the firm last we heard.
In the U.K., KPMG said the seven partners were either fired or were forced to resign following an internal investigation into their conduct, according to the Financial Times. KPMG has 635 U.K. partners.
Anna Purchas, KPMG’s head of people, told FT that the firm’s anti-harassment policy “strictly prohibits harassment, victimization, and bullying of all types.”
“When our people experience or see behavior they believe contravenes this policy, we actively encourage them to report it to us,” she added.
A spokesperson for PwC, which has 915 U.K. partners, told Economia:
“We’re committed to ensuring an inclusive, fair and diverse workplace and do not tolerate harassment or bullying.
“We regularly review and update our policies and recently established a new inclusive and positive workplace policy with guidance for our people on areas such as standards of expected behaviour.”
And Justine Campbell, EY’s managing partner for talent in the U.K., told Economia:
“Allegations of inappropriate conduct are always taken very seriously and are fully investigated. Disciplinary action, including dismissal, is taken as appropriate.
“At EY it is important that we maintain the right inclusive culture for our people and we have strict policies on sexual harassment and bullying in place. We also have a dedicated hotline and actively encourage our people to report any incidents of inappropriate behaviour which we act on immediately.”
The firm also said that is has, and will in the future, dismiss partners who commit an act of unacceptable or inappropriate behavior of a serious nature that warrants dismissal.