KPMG's UK boss resigns after telling staff not to 'sit there and moan' about the pandemic

Posted February 12, 2021 10:42 a.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2021 10:46 a.m. EST

— The UK chairman of accounting firm KPMG is resigning after he told staff in a meeting to stop complaining about the pandemic and said that there was "no such thing as unconscious bias."

In a video of the meeting published by the Daily Mail, Bill Michael can be seen telling employees they "are in a very lucky sector," and "can't play the role of victim unless you're sick, and I hope you're not sick... And if you're not, take control of your life, don't sit there and moan about it, quite frankly."

He also said he thinks "there's no such thing as unconscious bias" and that the concept was "complete and utter crap" — a term the Daily Mail bleeped in the video but was widely reported by UK media.

A KPMG spokesperson said they could not confirm the words Michael used but confirmed to that the video published on the Daily Mail was from Monday's town hall meeting. The spokesperson said that Michael was asked at the meeting about some of his personal reflections on a wide range of topics, including life in lockdown.

"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," Michael said in a statement Friday. "In light of that, I regard my position as untenable and so I have decided to leave the firm."

Board member Bina Mehta is stepping in as acting chair, and Mary O'Connor, head of clients and markets, has assumed Michael's day-to-day executive responsibilities.

KPMG said it would undertake a leadership election "in due course".

CNN has reached out to Michael for comment.

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