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, the chairman of KPMG UK, reportedly told the 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.
A video of his comments also showed Mr Michael dismissing unconscious bias – unintentional discrimination – as “complete and utter c**p”.
He is also said to have described meeting clients for coffee during the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Michael 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 Micheal 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.
“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.”
KPMG said Bina Mehta, senior elected board member, and Mary O’Connor, head of clients and markets, have taken over his responsibilities on an acting basis.
The company said a leadership election for a permanent replacement would be held “in due course”.