Big accountancy firms tackle partners over sexual harassment

In a week when Deloitte joined other big accounting firms by admitting they had fired male partners for inappropriate sexual behaviour or bullying, it’s worth just taking a look at the following comment.

“You can’t meet someone more junior to you in a bar on a Friday evening after work and assume she or he is attracted to you [and is seeking] a one-night stand. You just can’t do it.

“Some people definitely would have to have that explained to them. So we’ve been very clear on what is acceptable in our firm.”

Fire 20 of its partners

That’s Deloitte chief executive David Sproul, amplifying his company’s admission to fire 20 of its 1,000 partners over the past five years.

It’s staggering. Not the numbers. But the comment itself. And the fact that it had to be made. And, even worse, the fact there are ‘people’ (And professionals, too!) who have to have that explained to them!

I mean, are we meant to be impressed by this sudden expression of openness and honesty by the Big Four? Really? It’s nearly 2019 for goodness sake!

A few more facts

Anyway, rant over. Back to a few more facts on this story…

EY  dispatched five UK partners because of inappropriate behaviour, including sexual harassment and bullying. That’s out of 681 in the past four years.

Next up was KPMG. Seven of its 635 UK partners left in similar circumstances over that period.


Moving on to PwC… five out of 915. And BDO: one out of nearly 200.

Apparently, Deloitte introduced anti-harassment and discrimination training plus helplines a while back. The #MeToo movement on social media has also highlighted misconduct and other tawdry behaviour in business and politics.

Quite why the big accountancy firms have decided to open up on this now, though, is slightly odd.

Maybe the wider business community will follow. Though I wouldn’t hold your breath, especially when you add those pesky shareholders into the equation…


About the Author

Ian Moss

Ian Moss is the Editor of Accounting Insight News. He's been a journalist since leaving university and has worked for the Daily Mirror and Financial Times, among other media groups. Likes running, guitar, golf, dog-walking.

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