Faced with disturbing reports about “near persistent” harassment confronting women working at Lloyd’s of London, the insurance market has called last orders on one of the final redoubts of the City’s old-school booze culture.
As part of a code of conduct to be unveiled this week, people attempting to enter the market under the influence of drugs or alcohol will have their passes confiscated.
The rationale is that a significant number of reported incidents of disgraceful behaviour towards female workers have been linked to drink.
I’m told the market’s bosses were genuinely stung by them, and mean what they say about changing its culture.
Obviously, actions speak louder than words. But they have secured the support of the institution’s various stakeholders for this and other measures designed to stamp out what has been going on.
That should not be underestimated. As those with experience of covering it will be well aware, Lloyd’s is a very political place. It is the sum of many different parts, which frequently find themselves in conflict.
Getting them all on the same page can sometimes feel like herding cats.
Although being seen as a holdout on this issue would not be a good look for any of them, it’s one thing for institutions to sign up to the proposed changes, quite another for individuals to go along with them too.
The market says it’s a case of time gentlemen please when comes to boozy lunches. And, given what’s been going on, about time too.
But there will undoubtedly be those who hold out against what they perceive as the death of another hallowed part of the old City of London, and who feel the new rules don’t apply to them.
Lloyd’s is not only a political place, it’s a conservative place (with a small c).
Pity the security guards, who will be on the front line of this. They have an unenviable task. How will they react when a powerful and influential broker staggers in half-cut after overindulging over lunch, and starts making threats when they’re told to surrender their pass and go home?
I’m told they’ve received training and Lloyd’s insists that they will have its full support in taking a tough line with miscreants.
Passes they seize will be dispatched to the chairs of the businesses where miscreants work, with a note explaining why. But what if the person seeking to return to their desk after having one too many glasses of wine is the chair? See how it could get interesting?
Regardless, there may have to be a quite a few of those notes sent out to get the message home and make the market the “safe and inclusive” place its bosses say they want it to be. Change hasn’t always come easily to Lloyd’s. The scandal itself proves that.
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