Deloitte UK's deputy CEO 'bullied staff' and steps down

11 March 2021 2 min. read
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Deloitte’s UK Deputy CEO, who is also head of its diversity and inclusion efforts, has stood down from her role following the emergence of bullying allegations. The news sees Deloitte become the latest UK professional services giant to come under scrutiny for walking the talk on its inclusivity work, after KPMG’s Bill Michael lambasted workers upset at long hours as “playing the victim.”

Dimple Agarwal, the firm’s deputy chief executive and managing partner of its People and Purpose group, is facing an internal investigation into claims that she “communicated aggressively” and told colleagues to attend “extremely early morning meetings.” According to a report in the Telegraph, Agarwal, who was Head of ‘People and Purpose’ at the firm, had previously suggested that employee wellbeing was a top priority during the lockdown.

Having joined the firm in 2004, Agarwal has been at the centre of Deloitte’s diversity and inclusion push in recent years. As one of the most senior consultants at the firm, last year said that the physical and mental wellbeing of the firm’s employees during lockdown is a priority for Deloitte.

Deloitte UK's deputy CEO 'bullied staff' and steps down

However, despite also previously stating that it was important to balance home and work life, she allegedly did not back these words up with actions. One source told the Telegraph Agarwal is facing more than a dozen complaints about early starts and her communication style.

According to business news site City AM, following the launch of the investigation into Agarwal’s conduct, Deloitte UK boss Richard Houston told staff that he was “absolutely committed to ensuring that everyone in our firm is treated with respect” and “will not tolerate behaviours or actions that are inconsistent with our global shared values.”

In a separate statement, Houston said of the departing Agarwal, “After two years on the executive [board] and making a significant contribution to the firm’s people and purpose agenda, Dimple will be stepping down from her leadership roles. We’re grateful for what she’s achieved during her tenure.”

The news echoes a recent debacle at Deloitte’s Big Four rival KPMG. The firm’s former UK Chair Bill Michael was forced to step down from his role, during a tirade that not only angered staff for his lack of compassion regarding their wellness, but also took aim at the firm’s inclusivity work. Michael went on to label unconscious bias training as “complete crap,” before later stating, “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.”