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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
City workers 'reduced to tears'
By Calum Walker
Assistant Producer, The Third Degree: The City Exposed

Re-enactment of bullying for the Third Degree programme
Bullying can include sexual harassment of employees

The City of London is well known for generating fabulous wealth but less known for the costs it demands from some of its workers.

It has always had a reputation for being a high-pressure environment - but now people are coming forward with stories of extreme harassment and bullying.

In one of the first surveys of its kind, the BBC has found disturbing evidence of the scale of these kinds of behaviour.

Nearly one third of those surveyed said they had experienced bullying at work, with more saying they had witnessed others being bullied or harassed.

Danny Dove, an ex-trader, says: "It was painful, very, very painful. There were days where I would go home crying, in tears and not want to go to work, and it did cause me a lot of problems."

And Marianne Sorensen, a former assistant broker, recalls: "It was very aggressive, their attitude towards me was verbally threatening. I was actually scared of my team, especially my boss."

You hit the organisation and the individual discriminator or bully in their wallet
Lawrence Davies, solicitor

In one of the highest-profile cases of its kind, a High Court judge this summer awarded a City worker almost 1m for being bullied.

Steven Horkulak had claimed Lee Amaitis, president of brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald had hysterically screamed obscenities at him on a regular basis over six months over six months before he left the company in June 2000.

There are plenty of stories circulating around the City but few affected workers are willing to come forward and talk about their experience.

To do so could effectively kill off any chance of a career in the Square Mile, where word travels fast and being seen as a troublemaker could mean the difference between unemployment and a very lucrative career.

'Centuries' old

According to Shaun Springer, chief executive of headhunter firm Napier Scott Search, which specialises in brokers and traders:

"It would be wrong to say there is no bullying because of course there is.

"If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And there is no harm in that, it has been going on for centuries."

He believes that the aggression which can lead to bullying is an essential part of the character which has made the Square Mile a global force in world markets.

City of London
City workers complained of sexism, racism and aggressive behaviour

In a unique survey, the BBC spoke to more than 300 City workers and asked them about bullying, discrimination and harassment in their workplace.

The survey found trading floors and broking houses fared worst - with the highest rates of bullying and harassment.

New policies

Lawrence Davies, a solicitor with an extensive background in discrimination and equality work, believes only when companies are forced to pay punitive damages as well as compensation to the victim, as they do in the US, will the culture change swiftly.

"I think the best way to stop racism, sexism and bullying in organisations in the City, is simply to make it uneconomic for that organisation to allow it to happen, " he says.

"So you hit the organisation and the individual discriminator or bully in their wallet."

City firms have undoubtedly changed in the last ten years and stepped back from the excesses of the late eighties and the dotcom boom at the turn of the millennium.

In the wake of high profile discrimination cases going to court and the sluggishness of the markets, many firms have sought to stamp out these embarrassing practices.

They have changed their policies and tried to address the pressures their staff face. Sadly though it hasn't always succeeded.

The City Exposed is on BBC Three at 2100 BST on Thursday, 23 October.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC World Service business reporter Matthew Davies
"Only a quarter of the victims complained."



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