Sex, drugs and insurance syndicates

No means no

Lloyd’s of London has announced wide-ranging plans to deal with an epidemic of sexual harassment, as well as rampant alcohol and drug use.

First, following a damning Bloomberg Businessweek article alleging that many working in the centuries-old London insurance market were guilty of all manner of sexual misdemeanours, from ‘inappropriate remarks’ to unwanted physical contact, Lloyd’s published an action plan to curb the level of drinking within market culture. Alcohol use was thought to be a major driving force of the climate of sexual harassment. However, Lloyd’s has since gone a step further, and will now actively restrict anybody thought to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol from entering Lloyd’s premises.

Back in 2017, the Corporation of Lloyd’s announced that employees were no longer allowed to consume alcohol during business hours. This, however, did not seem to make much of a dent in the problem, and following the Bloomberg article, further action seems to have been swiftly taken.

“We are serious about delivering on our commitment to change the culture for the better,” said a representative of Lloyd’s, “ensuring Lloyd’s is a safe and inclusive environment for all our members.”

The sexual harassment action plan includes the provision of a confidential, independent point of contact to which victims of inappropriate conduct can report; a market-wide survey to identify exactly how widespread the issue of sexual misconduct is; and the provision of preventative training, as well as robust support structures for victims.

While Lloyd’s – and the wider insurance industry – have certainly made strides in terms of gender parity in recent years, from the reduction of gender pay gaps to improved diversity efforts, stories like this show just how far there is still to go. Unfortunately, many men in fields such as insurance – though this is by no means limited to one industry – still subscribe to a ‘Boy’s Club’ mentality, and attitudes need to change at a foundational level in order for real progress to be made. So long as women, or any other group, do not feel safe working within a particular field, that field cannot be said to be functioning properly.