Lloyd’s of London has raised eyebrows in the City with a new campaign against bullying and harassment that stretches its influence beyond the firm’s premises and into surrounding leisure spots.

In a variety of posters put up in local pubs and bars, the insurer instructs patrons to steer clear of particular types of conduct, and to speak out against undesirable behaviours if they witness them. Examples of the phrases used in the posters include:

  • “Banter at others’ expense. It’s not funny, it’s harassment”;
  • “Uninvited advances or physical contact. That’s not a joke, that’s harassment”;
  • “Lloyd’s. No place for unacceptable behaviour”, and
  • “We stand for respect, integrity and inclusion. And always speaking up.”

Each poster provides the number of a confidential advice line, and a Lloyd’s URL for additional online resources.

Lloyd’s is aiming the posters not just at its own employees, who frequent the establishments in the campaign’s catchment area, but those who work in the 100 underwriting firms and 300 brokerages based at its offices – known as the Lloyd’s ‘market’.

The campaign is part of a broader initiative on Lloyd’s part to drive significant cultural change in its industry, following the September publication of findings from the insurance sector’s largest ever culture survey. Among other things, the poll found that 8% of all respondents had witnessed sexual harassment in the previous 12 months. [1]

Lloyd’s CEO John Neal said in a statement: “At Lloyd’s we expect all market participants to act with integrity, be respectful and always speak up. I hope this campaign encourages more people to do so. You will be heard, you will be supported, and we will act, because no matter what form it takes, harassment is never acceptable. The ambition here is to make a positive difference in many people’s lives, by empowering individuals to act and intervene when they witness unacceptable behaviour.”

He added: “I think everyone has a role to play. Lloyd’s leadership is fully committed to transforming the culture at Lloyd’s with shared values that will shape the behaviours, choices and actions of everyone in the marketplace.” [2]

However, a 35-year-old, female worker at Lloyd’s market told the BBC: “If there is a real-life allegation that is proven and true, then of course they have to take action. But in terms of putting posters up in the pubs that surround Lloyd’s … maybe they are just protecting themselves in light of the bad press?” [3]

So, is the campaign an example of strong corporate citizenship, or reaching too far into workers’ own time?

The Institute of Leadership & Management’s head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “What’s going on here is a living, breathing illustration of what zero tolerance really looks like. Lloyd’s are recognising that they are not just an island, but part of a much wider ecosystem. So, by going beyond their immediate premises, they are acknowledging the complexity of the relationships within the ecosystem they are part of. And hopefully what they are also communicating is that they don’t want to do business with people or organisations that don’t share their values.”

Cooper notes: “There will always be cynicism about these sorts of initiatives. There will always be people who will look between the lines for other motives and agendas. And indeed, there can be multiple agendas – there doesn’t have to be one, single, overriding objective driving these schemes.”

Even so, she adds: “What these initiatives are doing is making statements about organisational values that, as we saw in our piece about Blizzard last week, can be challenged if stakeholders feel that those values aren’t being properly honoured. So I think that if an organisation is willing to put itself on the line and be held to the high standards it sets, there’s a real courage about that.

“More importantly, though, it’s a real recognition of the complexity of the ecosystem in which any business functions – particularly one as large and far reaching as Lloyd’s.”

For further insights on the themes raised in this blog, check out the Institute’s resources on the healthy workplace

Source refs: [1] [2] [3]

Image of signage inside the Lloyd's of London building in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, April 16, 2019.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

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