Deloitte diversity chief resigns over bullying accusationsby
Deloitte deputy CEO and diversity champion Dimple Agarwal stepped down following allegations of bullying from over a dozen members of staff.
UPDATE 25/10/2021: Clarification on behalf of Dimple Agarwal
Deloitte has confirmed that, after a thorough investigation there were no findings of bullying and Dimple Agarwal did not as a result resign or retire at that time from the firm.
"After 16 successful years at Deloitte Dimple has now decided to leave the Firm in order to spend more time focusing on her passions of diversity and equality, in particular girls' education, and sustainability. We wish her well in this next chapter and thank her for the contribution she has made during her career," a Deloitte spokesperson told AccountingWEB.
Deloitte deputy chief executive and diversity and inclusion champion Dimple Agarwal resigned from leadership positions a day after The Telegraph reported an internal investigation into allegations of bullying and inappropriate working practices.
Complaints from more than a dozen distressed staff claimed she had communicated aggressively and ordered extremely early starts for morning meetings. Allegations included aggressive behaviour on calls and in emails, and demanding staff work long hours. She is also said to have called staff before dawn and late at night.
As people and purpose manager at Deloitte UK, Agarwal was in charge of pushing diversity and inclusion within the workplace and led campaigns on parental leave, staff wellbeing, and ethnic and gender equality.
Agarwal had also led a strategy to improve the number of BAME partners at the firm. During lockdown last year she said that employee wellbeing was a priority for Deloitte.
In 2019, she introduced a paid leave policy for non-birthing parents as “part of our commitment to inclusion, where we are creating an environment of respect, dignity and belonging for all”.
Agarwal was previously quoted as saying, “It’s really important we balance our work and home life,” contradicting the recent allegations that she demanded staff start work before dawn.
Deloitte response to Agarwal accusations
Deloitte UK CEO Richard Houston confirmed that Dimple is stepping down from her leadership roles in an email to staff. “The media coverage will attract scrutiny of our firm and I fully expect that you will have questions or concerns,” he wrote.
“I cannot comment on any of the allegations contained in the article. But, as I have consistently made clear, I’m absolutely committed to ensuring that everyone in our firm is treated with respect, and I will not tolerate behaviours or actions that are inconsistent with our global shared values.”
Deloitte’s official public statement from Houston reads: “After two years on the executive and making a significant contribution to the firm’s People & Purpose agenda, Dimple will be stepping down from her leadership roles. We’re grateful for what she’s achieved during her tenure.”
Dimple Agarwal off work, unwell
Agarwal is reportedly signed off work due to illness. Deloitte could not confirm whether her absence would become permanent, only stating that “Dimple is currently unwell and signed off work. We won’t be commenting further at this point in time.” However, her profile has been removed from the firm’s website.
Declining to go any further into the details of the case, a Deloitte spokesperson told AccountingWEB: “We have a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment of any kind across the firm. We have worked hard to build a culture that encourages our people to speak up and raise concerns - and have the routes to do so - without fear of career penalty or other reprisal.”
Agarwal’s case is the second Big Four senior executive resignation this month following staff backlashes. “Some of the Big Four have fed the ‘woke’ tiger and it has turned around and bitten them,” said one major accounting firm senior partner, according to The Telegraph.