Doyle Clayton completes an independent investigation for MagicLab
In July 2019 Forbes Magazine published an article alleging a culture of sexism and misogyny in MagicLab’s London offices. MagicLab, the parent company of Badoo, Bumble, Lumen and Chappy subsequently engaged Doyle Clayton to investigate the allegations. The 6-month long investigation has now concluded with the report’s recommendations unanimously approved by MagicLab’s Board.
Ann Roberts, HR Director at Magic Lab commented:
“When faced with allegations as severe as those set out in the Forbes article it was essential to take swift and decisive action. Doyle Clayton was instructed to conduct an independent review. Doyle Clayton’s level of investigative rigour, insight and objectivity was something that we could not have achieved through an internal review alone. The next step is to share Doyle Clayton’s findings with all of our employees, and commit to implementing all of the recommendations from the report .What we’ve learnt will help us to further improve our policies, and it has strengthened our commitment to building the most inclusive and diverse workplace culture possible.“
Methodology and scope
The process undertaken to investigate the allegations put forward in the Forbes article included, taking witness evidence, obtaining and reviewing documentary evidence, and carrying out an anonymous staff survey. Witness evidence was taken from a significant number of current and ex-employees whose tenures extended back to as early as 2011, as well as reaching out to Forbes in an attempt to allow the sources of the article to assist with the investigation. Some of those interviewed provided documentary evidence relating to the allegations. Further documentary evidence included a review of email correspondence exchanged between named individuals dating back to 2010.
Doyle Clayton conducted an anonymous staff survey of all current employees at the London office. 280 responses out of 390 individuals working in the London office at the time of the investigation yielded a response rate of 71.8%. The data results were analysed for trends, themes, and patterns.
Doyle Clayton categorised the allegations as presented by Forbes magazine and analysed the evidence relating to each one. We then made recommendations based on our factual findings.
24 separate allegations were investigated. We did not consider the tax matters of the business, uncontroversial statements or statements that were too vague to meaningfully particularise from the Forbes articles as part of this investigation.
In relation to the 24 separate allegations investigated, it was found that the majority of the allegations as published in Forbes were historic and related to a time period between 2010 – 2012.
Following a long and detailed review, we found there to be a lack of credible evidence in relation to most of the allegations, particularly the more serious ones. The majority are therefore not substantiated. However, there is sufficient evidence to uphold three of the minor allegations and to partially uphold three further minor allegations.
It was concluded that the central allegation made by the Forbes article - that there is currently a misogynistic atmosphere at the London office is incorrect. Nevertheless, the investigation did identify a small number of current and former employees who feel that there are elements of sexism at MagicLab.
The 90-page report concludes with eight recommendations and a number of sub-recommendations,made with the aim of preventing conduct which led to the allegations that were upheld and to assist MagicLab continue to build an inclusive workplace culture more generally, following industry best practices and our professional expertise in the field of workplace law.
The main recommendations were:
- Compulsory diversity and inclusion training for all employees, to build on the existing D&I training programme by including less obvious examples of misconduct and offensive behaviour, such as banter and jokes, compliments, and challenges arising from a multicultural workforce. We recommended the training should encompass a broader understanding of inclusion which promotes acceptance, respect and teamwork.
- Tightening MagicLab’s HR policies and employee guidance, especially in building employee awareness of the appropriate reporting procedures in relation to witnessing any misconduct, and providing a way for all employees to do so anonymously.
- Reigniting the ‘women in tech’ group previously set up to encourage female employees to raise ideas and concerns and support each other, sponsored by a member of the senior management team.
- Enforcement of appropriate employee conduct at company parties and social events to clearly set out company expectations that define acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
- Exit processes and communications, including conducting exit interviews for all leavers to identify any areas for improvement in the employee experience.
- Implementation of a whistleblowing hotline as an appropriate mechanism for employees to raise any concerns anonymously.
- Continuing to promote a wide range of team building events, such as corporate charity days and inclusive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) events.
- Sharing with and sending out a communication to all employees regarding the outcome of this report.
Tina Wisener, Partner assisted by Verity Saxon, Senior Associate, Kate Kapp, Associate and Adam Murdoch, Associate, led the team at Doyle Clayton.
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