Lloyd’s of London has issued a £1m fine to Atrium Underwriters because of tolerated discrimination, harassment and bullying over the numerous years.

This is the largest fine in Lloyd’s 336-year history.

These “serious failings” of the firm include a mishandling, bullying and harassment case, and also an inappropriate “Boys’ Night Out” event for staff.

This annual “Boys’ Night Out” saw employees, including two executives, taking part in heavy drinking, initiation games, and “discriminatory and harassing comments” directed towards female members of staff.

In response, Lloyds have launched a whistleblowing hotline, and have advanced policies targeted towards diversity and inclusion.

This confirms a recent report by CIPD, which highlights that interpersonal conflict and uncivil behaviour are still remarkably common in the workplace.

 

Lloyd’s disciplinary action to set an example

Chairman of Lloyds of London, Carnegie-Brown, said: “We continue to crackdown on bad behaviour. The important thing is we are taking action.”

“The market is becoming more diverse and inclusive,” Brown adds.

However, it is not this simple; women across the globe continue to face similar acts of discrimination in the workplace.

Almost a quarter (23%) of women between the ages of 16 and 30 have been sexually harassed at work (with only 8% reporting it), according to a poll by the Young Women’s Trust.

 

The importance of addressing bullying and harassment in the workplace

Bullying and harassment have extremely negative consequences for not only the victim, but also teams and organisations.

“It negatively impacts the attitudes, behaviour and health of staff, notably leading to higher levels of anxiety and depression, reduced self-esteem and performance, and increased absenteeism and turnover. It is vital that employers are equipped to understand where such behaviour stems from and how to prevent it,” says the CIPD report.

 

Prevention over cure

CIPD recommend focusing on the root cause of harassment within the workplace. They recommend that employers should:

  • Provide resources for staff to confidently approach workplace incivility
  • Ensure staff involvement in the implementation of the recourses to make interventions effective
  • Target both individual development and organisational processes through wide-ranging interventions

A toxic work culture breeds gender discrimination. Greater disciplinary policies like that exhibited by Lloyds should be adopted should similar actions occur within the workplace elsewhere.

Breeding a healthy workplace culture is essential in that is conducive to promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion.

 

What is the difference between bullying and harassment?

On a final note, it is important to separate the terms bullying and harassment, which are often used interchangeably. It is crucial for HR professionals to have a clear definition of the terms.

The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as: ‘unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.’

Bullying, whilst not specifically defined in UK law, is defined by Acas as: ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.’