Staff members did not like it when BIll Michael, the chair of KPMG in the United Kingdom, told his employees to stop complaining and “playing the victim” about working conditions because of coronavirus and quit his post. He made these comments while speaking during a virtual meeting on Monday that was talking about the pandemic’s effects on employees’ situations, and he apologized for the way his comments were understood.
Mr. Michael said in a statement that, “I love the firm and I am truly sorry that my words have caused hurt amongst my colleagues and for the impact the events of this week have had on them. In light of that, I regard my position as untenable and so I have decided to leave the firm.” Many financial firms across both the United States and Europe are trying to balance between helping staff who are working from home and having to help with educating their children, and supporting the staff to meet their goals at work.
KPMG is one of the “big four” accountancy firms that work around the world, and some staff members have been told they would be forced into pay reduction. Many employees didn’t like Mr. Michael’s comments, with one telling the Financial Times, who were the first ones to break the story, “If someone tells you to stop moaning in the middle of a recession and when people are dying, that tells you everything. It’s incredibly insensitive.”
Mr. Michael has previously been hospitalized for contracting coronavirus, wrote an email to his staff to apologize by saying, “I know that words matter and I regret the ones I chose to use today. I think lockdown is proving difficult for all of us. I am very sorry for what I said and the way that I said it. I can only imagine what you and your families are going through and what you’re continuing to contend with each and every day. Having endured my own experiences, I should have appreciated the impact it’s having on all of us.”
There is an independent investigation into the comments in accordance to usual company procedures, and earlier this week the company has said that Mr. Michael was going to step aside pending that investigation. It was announced that he will be leaving his post by the end of the month. His final comments included that, “I feel hugely proud of all our people and the things they have achieved, particularly during these very challenging times.”