Nearly one in 10 Lloyd’s of London staff witnessed sexual harassment, poll finds

Lloyd’s is training workers to help empower individuals to act and intervene when they witness inappropriate behaviour Credit: John Walton/PA

The boss of Lloyd’s of London has vowed to reform its culture after “ugly, stark and unacceptable” results of a survey revealed nearly one in 10 of its workers have witnessed sexual harassment in the past year.

Chief executive John Neal said the findings of the poll of more than 6,000 staff across the 333-year-old insurance market was far worse than expected, and laid bare the scale of the toxic culture that has “for too long gone unspoken”.

The damning report found 8% – nearly 500 people – had seen some form of sexual harassment in the past 12 months, and 22% said they had seen people in their organisation turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour.

The survey, which is the largest of its kind by Lloyd’s, also discovered that nearly a quarter – 24% – have seen excessive drinking of alcohol in the market in the past year.

And of those questioned, one in five do not feel staff have equal opportunities, with Lloyd’s admitting that for every question, women’s answers reflected a more negative experience than men’s.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Neal said: “The results are ugly. They are stark. They are unacceptable.”

He said there were “no easy answers”, but hoped the findings would mark a turning point for the organisation.

“By being very transparent and stark about the way in which we represent the numbers, it will shock people into action,” he said.

The survey, which was independently conducted by the Banking Standards Board, comes after the group was rocked earlier this year by reports of a pervasive culture of sexual harassment.

Mr Neal added: “The results of this survey have highlighted the urgency with which we must address the negative actions and behaviours that have for too long gone unspoken and with impunity.

“Although the change we need to see will take time, I know that the vast majority of people in our market are as committed as I am to taking action.”

It has set out a series of long-term measures to tackle inappropriate behaviour, which build on its five-point action plan drawn up in March.

Among the initiatives are plans to encourage workers to speak up about workplace harassment and bullying.

This follows results of the survey showing only 45% of those questioned felt comfortable raising a concern in the Lloyd’s market, and of those who did, fewer than half – 41% – felt they were listened to and taken seriously.

It also found 38% of respondents said they did not know who to raise concerns with in the Lloyd’s market.

Lloyd’s is now training workers to help empower individuals to act and intervene when they witness inappropriate behaviour.

It will also launch its “Speaking up campaign” by the end of the year to encourage people to act when they see or experience inappropriate behaviour.

It has already promised an independent and confidential access point for reporting inappropriate behaviour.

Individuals found to have acted inappropriately will be subject to sanctions from both their own companies and Lloyd’s, including a possible temporary or permanent ban from entering Lloyd’s.

In April the institution also set out a new code of conduct that included a ban on its staff drinking between 9am and 5pm.

Mr Neal said it would probably take three years or more to effect change across the market, but said there would be measurable progress.

Part of his own responsibility will be to measure progress on the action plan from the second quarter of next year, with progress also published in the group’s annual report.

Mr Neal also pledged to see action taken from the most senior staff down, through all levels.

He said: “If the leaders are turning a blind eye, then change won’t happen.

“We’ll hold these leaders to account.”

Lloyd’s surveyed 6,0003 participants in the insurance market between May and June across all levels, of whom 35% were women.