Wednesday 18 September 2019 11:18 am

'Sobering and devastating': Lloyd's of London bosses speak out on sexual misconduct claims

Top bosses at Lloyd’s of London have expressed deep regret over a swathe of sexual misconduct allegations that have blighted the historic insurance market’s reputation.

The chairman and chief executive of Lloyd’s both said this morning that revelations of sexual harassment and assault against women at the firm had been devastating.

Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown told City A.M. that reports in Bloomberg on misconduct at the 330-year old specialist marketplace were “sobering”.

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“We felt we’d been improving the culture for a number of years so it was disappointing to find out we were not making as much progress as we thought.”

He added that the perception of insurers currently is “not good”.

Carnegie-Brown vowed to improve the company’s culture by encouraging people to speak out and being clear “about the punishment and retribution when we find people behaving in an unacceptable way”.

Chief executive John Neal said he was “devastated” by the findings, telling the BBC: “We thought there were signs that it was a reality”.

Next week Lloyd’s is set to release an unprecedented survey into its own culture aimed at improving gender equality and tackling behavioural problems.

“The findings are likely to be sobering, but they provide a baseline from which we can measure progress going forward,” said Carnegie-Brown.

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The survey was open to the 45,000 employees who work at the insurance market in the City, which includes 800 direct staff at Lloyd’s as well as thousands of brokers who work for other insurance companies.

Under scrutiny for its boozy culture, Lloyd’s also pledged in April to crack down on workers drinking during the day, saying its on-site bar would be turned into a coffee shop and anyone under the influence of drink or drugs would be barred from the building.

Today’s comments come on the same day as Lloyd’s reported a sharp rise in profits on the back of investment gains and cuts to its underperforming business.

Pre-tax profits hit £2.3bn in the first six months of 2019, rising almost four fold from the previous year.

“It is positive to be a reporting a profit after the loss at the end of last year,” said Carnegie-Brown.