KPMG has confirmed that Bill Michael, the accountancy giant’s UK chairman, is stepping down from his role pending an investigation into controversial comments he made during a virtual meeting with staff last week.
Earlier this week, Michael apologised for telling consultants to “stop moaning” during a discussion about the impact of the pandemic on their working lives.
The Financial Times reports the comment was made during a virtual town hall among KPMG employees, who told Michael of their concern regarding potential cuts to their pension contributions, pay and bonuses.
A KPMG UK spokesperson said: “Following the meeting on 8 February, the firm initiated an independent investigation into the alleged comments in accordance with its usual procedures.
“Mr Michael has decided to step aside from his duties as chair while the investigation is underway. We take this matter very seriously and will not comment further while the investigation is ongoing.”
In an apology email to employees, seen by the FT, Michael said: “I know that words matter and I regret the ones I chose to use today. I think lockdown is proving difficult for all of us. I am very sorry for what I said and the way that I said it.
“Covid has hugely impacted the way we all live and work — many of us very deeply. I can only imagine what you and your families are going through and what you’re continuing to contend with each and every day.”
He added: “Having endured my own experiences, I should have appreciated the impact it’s having on all of us.”