KPMG UK chairman quits after ‘stop moaning’ scandal

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The chairman of top accountancy firm KPMG UK has resigned after reportedly telling staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of lockdown on their lives.

“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,” Bill Michael said in a statement on Friday.

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Senior elected board member Bina Mehta was appointed as an acting chair while Mary O’Connor, head of clients and markets, has assumed Michael’s day-to-day executive responsibilities as acting senior partner.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that he had accused staff of moaning and “playing the victim card” in an internal meeting. KPMG launched an investigation.

“I have spoken to a lot of partners, and people at all sorts of levels, where it almost feels like this [pandemic] is being done to them. Well, you can’t play the role of victim unless you’re sick. And I hope you’re not sick, and you’re not ill, and if you’re not, take control of your life, don’t sit there and moan about it,” he was reported as saying by the BBC.

“There is no such thing as unconscious bias.” he added. “I don’t buy it, because after every single unconscious bias training that’s ever been done nothing has ever improved. So unless you care, you actually won’t change.”

According to KPMG’s website, Michael has “championed the debate about bank culture and standards and the need for change in the industry” during his tenure as a chairman.

Michael, who was hospitalised last March after being infected with the COVID-19 virus said in a response to an enquiry from the Pink ‘Un that “lockdown is proving very difficult for all of us”, the Financial Times reported.

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