A report by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer into sexual misconduct claims by a former UBS employee has found the bank made “no fundamental errors” in its investigation into the allegations.
The Magic Circle firm was brought in earlier this year to provide an independent assessment of how UBS responded to a female trainee’s allegation that she was raped by a male colleague, a claim the bank described as “deeply upsetting.”
The complaint came to light this summer, after which UBS began what it described as ”a thorough review looking at how we handled this matter.”
Despite concluding that the bank’s investigation team “sought to conduct the investigation fairly,” and that there were “no fundamental errors in the investigation process,” Freshfields has set out a number of recommendations on how the bank can improve it responds to such allegations in the future.
The recommendations include having more specially trained experts to investigate sexual misconduct cases, speeding up the resolution of such matters, and keeping those who have reported misconduct better informed of the progress of any subsequent investigations.
On the back of the recommendations, UBS is introducing a series of measures, including a confidential hotline for staff to report sexual misconduct and harassment complaints, expanding training for those involved in investigating sexual misconduct, and making workplace behavior training mandatory for all ranks and roles.
In an internal memo sent out to staff announcing the changes, the bank said it was “fully committed to improving in these areas,” adding: “We must do everything possible to eradicate sexual misconduct in the workplace and broader society. An unwavering focus and commitment across the bank is critical to ensure that zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior and working with respect remain deeply rooted in the culture of our firm.”
Both the woman in question and the alleged perpetrator are understood to have left the bank.
Freshfields has a long-standing relationship with UBS, with recent major mandates including advising the bank on the 2016 combination of most of its European wealth management business into UBS Europe.
Freshfields declined to comment.