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COVID-19: City boss quits after telling staff to ‘stop moaning’ about worries

Written by on 12 February 2021

The chairman of a City accountancy firm has resigned following a backlash over remarks made to staff which dismissed concerns about COVID crisis fatigue.

Bill Michael, a senior partner at KPMG UK, reportedly told an online gathering involving hundreds of workers on Monday that they should stop “moaning” and “playing the victim card”.

It was an apparent reaction to an internal poll which, the Financial Times said, showed a high percentage of employees struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The street level sign of the KPMG buliding Image: KPMG is one of the so-called big four accountancy firms

A video of his comments also showed Mr Michael dismissing unconscious bias – unintentional discrimination – as “complete and utter c**p”.

He is also reported to have described meeting clients for coffee during the coronavirus crisis.

The 52-year-old Australian, who was admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in late March last year, stepped aside while the company initiated an independent investigation.

KPMG confirmed on Friday he had resigned and would leave at the end of the month.

Mr Michael said in a statement: “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.

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Bill Michael remarks ‘a shocker’ for KPMG

“In light of that, I regard my position as untenable and so I have decided to leave the firm.

“It has been a privilege to have acted as chair of KPMG.

“I feel hugely proud of all our people and the things they have achieved, particularly during these very challenging times.”

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Two senior KPMG members, Bina Mehta and Mary O’Connor, will take over Mr Michael’s duties between them, becoming acting chairwoman and acting senior partner.

The company said a leadership election for a permanent replacement would be held “in due course”.

Ms Mehta said: “Bill has made a huge contribution to our firm over the last 30 years, especially over the last three years as chairman, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

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