Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update. Take a look at this week’s key trends, moves and developments in legal and compliance.
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1. Bringing Mental Health Awareness to Financial Services
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, organisations all over the UK are opening up the dialogue to address mental health to encourage the idea of taking care of our minds as much as we do our bodies.
This can be particularly challenging within the financial services sector. In an environment where long hours and challenging workloads are deeply embedded in company culture, mental health doesn’t often feature as a priority.
In a recent industry report, HR consultants AdviserPlus assessed over 250,000 employee records and determined that the financial services sector experiences the highest number of absences due to mental health (34%).
As society beings to evolve, and the millennial generation voices its demand for employee wellbeing, there has been a rise in the number of initiatives to support and promote mental health awareness. The British Standards Board (BSB) recently published a paper outlining eight situational factors that affect employee wellbeing and resilience at work.
As part of this initiative, the BSB carried out an industry-wide survey, which resulted in over 72,000 responses. Chairman Dame Colette Bowe revealed that the proportion of people who think working at their firm has had a negative impact on their mental health has remained the same over the last three years: “Firms need to take this lack of progress seriously. Simply having a wellbeing programme is clearly not enough; more needs to be done to identify and address the underlying causes behind these numbers,” says Dame Bowe.
Meanwhile, Barclays are ahead of their global banking peers having launched a mental health framework that is growing rapidly amongst the legal community, with many of the City’s leading law firms signing up. Labelled the Mindful Business Charter, Barclays’ initiative aims to change avoidable working practices which can affect mental health and wellbeing, focusing on principles such as improved communication, respect for rest periods and delegation of tasks. The charter now has 20 signatories, with nine new law firms announced to have joined earlier this week.
Regardless of which financial institution or professional services firm you work at, research highlights there are certain causes of employee stress and anxiety common to all within this sector. Due to the fast-paced, high-pressure, and highly competitive nature of the work, there is a huge need for support and intervention from the top in order to fundamentally improve employee wellness in the long-term.
2. Bullying and Sexual Harassment ‘endemic’ in the legal profession, global survey finds
Bullying and sexual harassment are rife in the legal profession, with workplace training having little or no effect on tackling these issues finds a global survey of over 7,000 people published by the International Bar Association.
The largest ever survey of lawyers on these issues, one third of female respondents said they had experienced sexual harassment in a workplace (compared to one in 14 men), while half the women and a third of men cited work-related bullying.
Furthermore, the report found “chronic underreporting” of incidents, with 57% of bullying cases and 75% of sexual harassment cases globally going unreported. Reasons given for this include the victim’s fear of repercussions for their careers, and in the case of bullying, the perpetrator being more senior or prominent in the organisation and/or such incidents being endemic at the workplace and therefore seen as acceptable.
Indeed, younger legal professionals were found to be disproportionately affected by both bullying and sexual harassment, the report established.
Policies and training “do not appear to be having the desired impact,” the report said. “Respondents at workplaces with policies and training are just as likely to be bullied or sexually harassed as those at workplaces without.”
The US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Nigeria were the worst countries for sexual harassment, with between 24 and 35 per cent of respondents saying they had experienced work-related problems. The UK, Sweden and Brazil were among those close behind, with 21-23 per cent saying the same.
Sexist and sexually suggestive comments were the most common forms of harassment, while 22 per cent of respondents who had experienced sexual harassment were subject to physical approaches. The majority of reported incidents of sexual harassment (54%) were perpetrated by a non-supervising manager, whereas the opposite was true for bullying (60.5% reported that the bullies were their direct boss or manager).
Canada, Australia and South Africa also reported the highest levels of bullying, with levels of bullying in the UK found to be above the international average, with 62% of female respondents and 41% of male respondents reporting that they had been bullied in connection with their employment (compared to 55% and 30% respectively).
Horacio Bernardes Neto, the IBA president, said the study provided the first global proof that “bullying and sexual harassment are endemic in the legal profession” adding that the sector risks hypocrisy in its ability to advise other organisations on these issues.
The report calls upon individuals to call out offensive behaviour, and for firms to implement customised training products and a multifaceted reporting process to address grievances. It also suggests that law firms collect and publish data on sexual harassment and bulling within their ranks, and to put this into the context of work satisfaction and employee mental health. Following the example set by the Big Four, this could include information about the number of partners who were fired for inappropriate behaviour.
Movers & Shakers of the week
Clive Jones is set to become the UK Tax Head at the start of next month, following the departure of Kelly Lovegrove and Paul Rutherford from the team
Mayer Brown is to expand its oil and gas capabilities in London, hiring Bob Palmer from CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang.
Stephanie Hamon, head of commercial management and managing director at Barclays, exits to establish own consultancy business
Competition partner Robert Vidal will join the team at Pinsent Masons, specialising in the life sciences, pharmaceuticals and technology sectors.
Office co-founders Eva-Maria Goergen and Stefan Segger leave the firm with two counsels
Morrison & Foerster partners Ivan Smallwood, Noah Carr and Stuart Beraha join Latham in Tokyo.
Tax disputes partner Niv Tadmore leaves Clayton Utz with his team to join Jones Day, which has been expanding in Australia in recent years.
Litigation partner Haiyan Tang joins private equity firm CBC Group, leaving Paul Hastings with two partners in Shanghai.
Bruno Leroy joins Paul Hastings from Dechert.
Office Openings & Closings
Inclusion & Diversity
Innovation and Technology