10 December 2018

Traders and managers at Standard Chartered wolf-whistled at one of its senior in-house lawyers and told her white people were more civilised, according to a claim she is bringing against the bank for sexual and racial harassment.

The British, black lawyer, who earned more than £13,000 a month as a senior legal counsel in one of the multinational bank's Middle Eastern branches, is taking her claim to the UK Employment Tribunal. RollOnFriday is not naming 'Ngozi', who was employed by Standard Chartered for four years.

According to information passed to RollOnFriday, at a drinks event in 2014 a head of department put his hand in Ngozi's braids and, when she protested, told her words to the effect that ‘I can do what I like because I'm your boss'. Ngozi raised a grievance, however the man was subsequently promoted. The bank conceded that there had been an "incident", but denied that it had failed to take Ngozi's complaint seriously.

On another occasion a staff member wolf-whistled at Ngozi on the trading floor. When Ngozi raised concerns that her subsequent complaint was not treated seriously, the bank argued that it had taken sufficient action by speaking to the whistler about his conduct.

panther
"Touch the hair one more time."

 

The bank also turned a blind eye to racial harassment perpetrated by a manager, ’Cleo’, according to Ngozi's claim. When the pair went out for lunch, Cleo allegedly told Ngozi that she was happy to be working in the Middle Eastern city's banking district because it meant she was "around white people", and then said "yay civilisation”. According to allegations seen by RollOnFriday, Cleo continued by speaking to Ngozi in Ebonics, confessing that she and her husband had discussed Ngozi's bum and that he was keen to meet her, and suggesting that Ngozi, who wore her hair in an afro style at the time, "wouldn’t know what conditioner felt like".

RollOnFriday understands that an HR manager's report suggested Ngozi "open[ed] the door" to race-based comments by "initially [bringing] up the subject of heritage". The HR manager cited an occasion when Ngozi congratulated Cleo after Cleo's national team won a game in the World Cup, but was offended when Cleo replied by asking if Ngozi supported England or an African nation. Standard Chartered is understood to have partially upheld Ngozi's complaint, but Cleo was subsequently promoted into a position where she became Ngozi's line manager.

The bank is also accused of protecting three managers in the bank's compliance function who allegedly leaked details of Ngozi’s racial harassment grievance to other members of her team and to colleagues in other offices around the world, and by initiating an investigation into Ngozi's tone and performance which concluded that she should take communication training. As a result of the alleged harassment, discrimination and victimisation, Ngozi stopped attending work in July 2018. After relations with the bank broke down, she was dismissed, her visa was cancelled and her back account with Standard Chartered was blocked.

Earlier this year the bank's head of compliance, Neil Barry, left the bank after a disciplinary investigation into multiple harassment complaints from co-workers found that his behaviour, managerial style and language were “inappropriate”.

Both Ngozi and Standard Chartered declined to comment.

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Comments

Anonymous 14 Dec 18

Brought up the subject of heritage by referring to someone's national football team? So it's all her fault that her heritage was then denigrated? Good grief!

Used to work there 15 Dec 18

There definitely is a cultural problem in that place. I remember overhearing a convo from a (CIS-gender middle class white male) manager that women’s empowerment groups within the Bank were discriminating to men... 

Anonymous UK-UAE 16 Dec 18

Absolutely ridiculous how in such established firms you have such people representing a management role and not only that but to promote them further ????. Especially in a multicultural state. They should surely be penalised for their behaviour. And no just because YOUR THE BOSS !! You do not have a right, your right applies to managing and implementing methods to improve the system. Even so you should not even be given that role. It's appalling how in such given days certain people carry this mentality. Surely it's due to being deprived of good education and upbringing. I certainly hope Ngozi gets her fair right share from this. 

Anonymous 16 Dec 18

What anon 15 Dec saus. There is certainly at least one bank legal team where it's 80% female and it's well known among the men they have zero chance of promotion. How "fighting" discrimination with even more blatant discrimination is supposed to do anything other than polarise people into defensive camps is beyond me.

Anonymous 16 Dec 18

Will be interesting to see more of the story and context in the tribunal report. We will see if there were grounds for complaint. One thing though, I don't see how the subsequent promotion is relevant to the complaint as the matter had already been dealt with at that point. It can't be the case that someone who has been the subject of a complaint can never be promoted.

The law is interesting 17 Dec 18

If they upheld it surely there was grounds for complaint? I presume like most countries around the world this one has laws which provide that where a protected claim is made (such as racial discrimination) the person complained about cannot be promoted to a position of authority over the complainant otherwise that would constitute textbook victimisation. The problem is most people who suffer from discrimination don't complain which is why people can become global heads/Harvey Weinstein before the problem is identified or even dealt with...

Anonymous 17 Dec 18

@The law is interesting - the complaint was partially upheld. I think this means that, in Standard Chartered's opinion, some of the complaint had grounds and some didn't. The tribunal should tell us more. I think it would only be victimisation if the promotion was due to the act complained of, and there is no suggestion that this was the case. Here, the matter had been dealt with, so I don't understand the complaint about the promotion. 

Anonymous 18 Dec 18

@Suspicious - which comments and why do you think so? All of the comments are anonymous.

Suspicious 18 Dec 18

@anonymous1 18 December: well, the suggestion the problem had already been dealt with can only come from “cleo” herself or the company as there’s no indication in the article. Also, they were silly comments, everyone (except that person commenting) knows the basic tenets of victimisation law and promoting an abuser might be ok (after all, how else did Trump get the presidency :-p) but not to a position of authority over the complainant.  @anonymous2 18 December: Everyone of my female friends have suffered abuse or discrimination of some sort at work, less than 1% have spoken out. Seems to me a lot more people make their careers out of masking their offence. 

Anonymous 19 Dec 18

@Suspicious - the article does say the complaint was dealt with (btw, there was no suggestion that the complainant was abused). As such, I don't see the 'victimisation' angle as the promotion was not due to the act complained of, and not sure why you think that the comment was from SCB PR. How do you know that all of your female friends have suffered abuse or discrimination? What about your male friends?

Laughable 20 Dec 18

The only place that fills me with more despair for humanity than the daily mail comments is the ROF article comments on topics like these.  Jesus christ guys, it's 2018 and half of you sound like dinosaurs.

Anonymous 20 Dec 18

@Suspicious - how do you know that all of your female friends have suffered abuse or discrimination?

Anonymous 21 Dec 18

They must be on a roll! I hear they’ve just hired someone who was binned by HSBC for sexual harassment 

Anonymous 23 Dec 18

@On a roll - what was the 'sexual harassment' the person from HSBC was accused of? How do you know that they were fired for it?

Agree with Suspicious 31 Dec 18

Anyone else notice that comments of anonymous 17, 19, 20 and 23 Dec all appear to come from the same person/SCB PR? No doubt the automatic 3 dislikes and response to this comment will be forthcoming.... 

Anonymous 05 Jan 19

@Agree with suspicious - perhaps you can answer the questions asked in those comments then?

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