Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s largest investment firms, last week fired two high-level executives amid sexual harassment complaints.
The influential Wall Street Journal reported their dismissals first, whilst noting that Wall Street might just have their own Harvey Weinstein problem now.
The two were former portfolio manager Mr C. Robert Chow (who continuously made inappropriate comments towards female employees) and prominent tech fund manager Mr Gavin Baker (who had harassed a 26-year-old employee over a long period of time). Given their stellar record of continuing profits, it is no wonder that the two will find jobs at rival firms soon.
Employees of Fidelity were not allowed to comment on the dismissals, but corporate spokesman Mr Vincent Loporchio said that Fidelity “prohibit harassment in any form. When allegations of these sorts are brought to our attention, we investigate them immediately and take prompt and appropriate action. We simply will not, and do not, tolerate this type of behaviour.”
The allegations come at a bad time for Fidelity Chairwoman Ms Abigail Johnson, just as there is heightened sensitivity to sexual harassment complaints in corporate America. After all the attention to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, there was the weekend story of former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly who had secretly settled a sexual harassment allegation with an unnamed network contributor for a whopping $32 million.
Ms Johnson admits that the Wall Street world of finance is still mostly a men-related workplace which can be quite intimidating: “We have a real need in our business to recruit more women. We don’t have enough women who are customer facing reps to serve all the women customers who come in and ask for women.”
For this reason, Fidelity has now hired an outside consultant to review employee behaviour in its stock-picking unit.
The asset management world, where Fidelity does most of its business, is of course an area where such concerns linger. Women and minorities are constantly locked out of some of sector’s most lucrative positions, and manage just over 1 percent of the $71 trillion of the industry.