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Lloyd’s still grappling with booze and bullying culture despite discipline crackdown

Lucy Burton
·3-min read

Lloyd's of London workers are still seeing inappropriate behaviour and excessive drinking, despite the market’s crackdown on boozy and bullying behaviour.

The 335-year-old insurance market, which only allowed women on to its floor in 1973, unveiled new rules in 2019 after female workers said they felt like they were working in a “meat market” where they were judged on their looks and rated for their “shaggability”.

One woman said at the time that she had been attacked by her drunk boss but told it would be bad for her career to complain.

An internal survey of more than 6,000 Lloyd’s workers, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, found that 13pc of respondents had observed excessive alcohol consumption between Oct 2019 and Oct 2020, while 4pc had witnessed sexual harassment and 15pc said they had watched colleagues turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour.

The figures are lower than the previous year, the first in which the internal survey was carried out. Then, almost one in 10 staff witnessed sexual harassment. Almost a quarter (24pc) reported excessive drinking among colleagues while 22pc said peers turned a blind eye to bad behaviour.

Lloyd’s chief executive John Neal said responses to the latest survey, open to all 45,000 brokers, underwriters and direct staff, signal “good progress”.

However, the numbers are likely to have been skewed by the rolling lockdowns since March. The survey only covers a five-month period before the pandemic, after which most workers were sent home from the Lloyd’s building in Lime Street, London.

The institution said it is difficult to know exactly how much of an impact Covid has had on the results.

Lloyd’s has worked to change its reputation as hard-drinking and old-fashioned since widespread bad behaviour in the market was exposed in 2019.

It responded with measures that included lifetime bans for those found guilty of the worst misbehaviour, and turning its on-site pub One Under Lime into a coffee shop.

Dame Inga Beale, the only woman ever to run the group, delivered a scathing attack on her former employer that year by saying she feared its toxic culture would not change in her lifetime.

The latest survey shows that since then more people in the market feel comfortable speaking up, with 57pc saying they were taken seriously after raising a concern versus just 41pc the previous year.

However the responses were more positive among white men.

Lloyd’s said women answered 22 out of the 36 questions more negatively than men, and black and ethnic minority respondents were less likely to raise concerns relating to discrimination.

They also had a higher level of disagreement about whether their colleagues act honestly and ethically, and a higher level of distrust in senior leaders.

Lloyd's has been asking black and ethnic minority employees about their experiences of working in the market in recent months and set up a database after finding that only two-thirds of syndicates recorded data on ethnic diversity.

Last year it was among the UK institutions forced to acknowledge its “shameful” ties to the 18th and 19th century slave trade after its role was highlighted in a major academic database.