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Insurer in Full: Lloyd’s culture: Is WFH distorting the booze and bullying stats?

This week Lloyd’s is set to formally unveil the results of its 2022 Culture Survey in which it records a marked reduction in the number of cases of inappropriate behaviour in the market...

Readers of The Insurer were able to get the first look at the Lloyd’s-commissioned survey last week, which highlights a drop off in the number of cases sexual harassment witnessed in the past 12 months as well as an observed excessive consumption of alcohol in the market.

Of course these results should be celebrated as CEO John Neal and his team make headway in turning around not just the profitability but also the professional reputation of the 330+ year old market.

 Neal had barely got his feet under the table at his desk on the 11th floor in 2019 when a Bloomberg article shattered the image of Lloyd’s and the wider London (re)insurance market.

In response to Lloyd’s being described as a “meat market” with a “deep-seated culture of sexual harassment” Neal acted quickly in rolling out a market-wide survey into its culture.

Most questions improved since 2020…

The results were damning, with 22 percent of respondents describing their organisation as turning a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour and 8 percent having witnessed sexual harassment over the previous 12 months.

Neal himself told this publication that the results were “pretty ugly”.

Since then, Neal – quite rightly – has taken a hard line to examples of unacceptable behaviour, including the introduction of lifetime bans for perpetrators of sexual harassment, temporary suspensions from the Underwriting Room, the launch of a harassment and bullying helpline and the enactment of a policy that would ban people under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs from entering One Lime Street.


Of course, actions speak louder than words, and earlier this year Lloyd’s proved to be true to theirs, issuing a £1mn penalty against Atrium.

Marking the heaviest fine ever handed out to date by the Lloyd’s Enforcement Board, Atrium accepted three charges of detrimental conduct along with the fine after it failed to adequately respond to mistreatment by an employee against a more junior member of staff.

Lloyd’s has demonstrated it is committed to a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour in the market not only by its actions but also the progressive results of the latest survey – and for this the Corporation should be applauded.

But, the results of the latest survey should arguably come with a caveat.


The survey covers the period when lockdown measures were in place which would have curbed incidents related to drinking and socialising. 

Given more meetings were held on Zoom rather than over lunch in Leadenhall Market while swathes of the country worked from home – the ability to witness inappropriate behaviour was blinkered. 

But that’s not to say it went away.

As one anonymous reader of The Insurer said: “I’d have thought it would have been harder to sexually harass someone while WFH, but I was proved wrong as creeps get evermore creative.”

Of course it’s impossible to tell what impact lockdown measures had or if Lloyd’s culture is truly moving away from being what Bloomberg labelled “the most archaic corner left in global finance”.

As more carriers and brokers encourage staff to return to their desks (for at least part of the week) we expect next year’s survey to present a clearer picture.


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