QBE Insurance has announced that Group CEO Pat Regan will leave the organisation after almost three years in the role. The departure follows the outcome of an external investigation concerning workplace communications that the board concluded did not meet the standards set out in the company’s code of ethics and conduct.
Chairman Mike Wilkins said the board of directors completed an external investigation and took decisive action in relation to the outcomes.
“We are committed to having a respectful and inclusive environment for everyone at QBE,” said Wilkins. “The board concluded that he had exercised poor judgement in this regard. While these are challenging circumstances, the board recognises and thanks Mr Regan for his hard work and contribution to strengthening QBE. However, all employees must be held to the same standards.”
According to a statement, Wilkins will assume the role of Executive Chairman, taking on day-to-day oversight of the company, while an internal and external international search process takes place to appoint a new QBE Group CEO following the departure of Pat Regan.
“The fundamentals of our business are strong, supported by cell reviews and Brilliant Basics which continue to grow in sophistication and remain key drivers of our performance,” said Wilkins. “Alongside this, we are accelerating our programme of work to build best-in-class data and digital capabilities to meet the evolving needs of our customers. Coupled with a greatly improved external pricing environment, these factors give me great confidence in our future.
“While COVID-19 has created significant challenges, QBE is successfully navigating this period of uncertainty, and the Group’s demonstrable financial strength positions us well to capitalise on accelerating pricing momentum and emerging organic growth opportunities.”
The Sydney Morning Herald shed more light on the subject, quoting an unnamed source who said a female employee in QBE’s North American operations had raised concerns about inappropriate workplace communications nearly two weeks ago. The concerns were passed on to the board, which hired an Australian law firm to conduct the external investigation, culminating in the announcement by QBE that the communications did not meet the standards of its code of ethics and conduct. The source said the law firm’s report did not conclude that the incident was a sexual harassment case, but did find that it was inappropriate.
Without elaborating on the specific circumstances surrounding Regan’s exit, the company said it will build on the “significant work already undertaken to develop a vibrant and inclusive culture at QBE”, introducing “additional initiatives” in the coming weeks. This will start with a “board-sponsored and externally-supported culture review “and the creation of an “additional avenue” for employees to safely raise concerns and receive support that will supplement existing channels.
“We want our people to have the avenues they need to safely speak up, with the confidence that they will be heard and that all concerns raised will be treated consistently across our workforce,” added Wilkins.