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KPMG UK chairman resigns after viral video telling privileged staff to stop complaining about pandemic

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KPMG UK chairman and senior partner Bill Michael resigned, a decision that was forced by the online backlash he faced after telling employees to stop complaining about the pandemic. Michael caved and apologized before and after resigning.

In a viral video call with consultants, Michael told employees to not “sit there and moan” about working amid the pandemic, according to a report by The Financial Times. The former chairman added that they should cease playing “victim unless they are sick,” and instead, “take control of [their] life.” 

Michael, 52, also told them they were “very lucky” to have a job in the finance sector during a pandemic, as many people are losing their jobs. He also blasted the unconscious bias training, saying it was “complete utter crap” that has not improved the workplace in any way. 

He backed down and apologized for his words at the end of the call. He also apologized in an email to the firm’s financial services consultancy team. However, he had to temporarily step down pending an independent investigation by the firm. 

On February 12, he resigned from the position he had held since 2017. 

“I regard my position as untenable and so I have decided to leave the firm,” he said and added another apology. 

The accounting behemoth replaced him with two women, Mary O’Connor, as acting senior partner, and Bina Mehta, as acting chairman. It was the first time in the firm’s over one-and-half century history that women were appointed for top leadership roles. 

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

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