KPMG’s UK leader quits following ‘stop moaning’ controversy

Employment & Skills | Latest News | South East

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The UK boss of KPMG Bill Michael will leave the professional services giant following an investigation into apparent ‘offensive remarks’ that he allegedly made at a meeting with colleagues Monday.

Michael reportedly told employees to ‘stop moaning’ about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their lives and working conditions.

He is also reported to have said that too many people were ‘playing the victim card’ since the initial lockdown in March 2020.

He has since apologised, but KPMG has launched an ‘independent investigation’ but also that Michael has stepped down from his role.

A statement from KPMG read: “Mr Michael has decided to step aside from his duties as chair while the investigation is underway. We take this matter very seriously and will not comment further while the investigation is ongoing.”

Industry reaction

Dr Maja Korica, Associate Professor of Organisation and Management at Warwick Business School, said: “Lack of empathy, dismissal of legitimate concerns, and focusing only on results may have gotten Mr Michael to the top, but staying there effectively necessitates the very opposite.

“Such behaviour is incredibly disappointing to see, in a pandemic to boot. It indicates a lack of connection and perspective beyond your own, inevitably privileged and sheltered reality as a leader.

“Wisdom in leadership means knowing this for a fact and putting in place structures to ensure your disconnect doesn’t work against you or against the organisation.

“It also means knowing that power corrupts. Mr Michael should have remembered this, or better yet, appointed a team around him not fearful to remind him of it daily. Without it, we get this.”

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