KPMG UK boss quits after telling staff unconscious bias is ‘complete crap’ | The Independent

The UK chair of big four accounting firm KPMG has resigned after allegedly telling staff to “stop moaning” about the Covid-19 pandemic and that unconscious bias was “complete crap”.

Bill Michael will step down from the audit giant at the end of the month after details of what he said during a virtual staff meeting on Monday were revealed.

“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,” the 52-year-old Australian said.

“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.”

The decision to leave the company comes two days after Mr Michael stepped aside while KPMG investigated his remarks.

The senior partner is reported to have told staff to “stop moaning” and “playing the victim card” when it came to the pandemic in a call with around a third of the firm’s 1,500 employees.

He also reportedly spoke about meeting clients for coffee during the pandemic.

Mr Michael was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in 2020.

He was also reported to have described unconscious bias as “complete crap”.

Mr Michael’s comments triggered anger from some employees on an app used to post comments during the meeting.

“There’s no such thing as unconscious bias?! Are you joking? Please do your research before just making such statements. Check your privilege,” one employee wrote, according to records reviewed by the Financial Times.

Two senior KPMG members, Bina Mehta and Mary O’Connor, will take over Mr Michael’s duties between them, becoming acting chair and acting senior partner.

Ms Mehta said: “Bill has made a huge contribution to our firm over the last 30 years, especially over the last three years as chairman, and we wish him all the best for the future.”