The wake of the Harvey Weinstein unpleasantness is a bad time to find out you’ve been running a testosterone-fueled sexual harassment factory. Yet this is the position in which Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson finds herself. The firing of star fund manager Gavin Baker last month was just the tip of the iceberg, apparently, or actually more like the middle of it, since Fido fired another senior manager six years ago for “terrible and still deteriorating relationships” with colleagues and one more earlier this month over allegedly inappropriate sexual comments. Which all actually sounds pretty par for the course for Fidelity’s stock-picking operation.
Multiple employees have complained to superiors and the company’s human-resources department about sexual harassment and other abusive behavior by portfolio managers at the equity division, according to people familiar with the matter. Those complaints have alleged disparaging remarks about appearance and sexual innuendo toward women, as well as bullying of both genders….
The former managers and analysts say the compensation structure has at times given rise to a popularity contest inside Fidelity’s stock-picking unit, with analysts currying favor with portfolio managers.
Informal outings to bars, Red Sox baseball games and poker games hosted by male portfolio managers were particularly fraught, these people say. Some analysts and associates, male and female, felt pressure to go to these events to get a good rating, the former managers and analysts say. Others say they weren’t invited, creating what the 2015 report deemed a difficult culture.
If only Johnson had had some inkling of what was going on in equities… oh, wait, she probably did. Or could have if she wanted to.
A June 2015 report written by a working group of female Fidelity employees was presented to senior staff in the firm’s stock-picking unit, according to four people who saw the report or attended a presentation of it. Fidelity Chief Executive Abigail Johnson also received a copy, according to these people. The presentation warned of a male-dominated culture at the equity unit and its detrimental effects on women in particular, according to the people.
“We are not aware of this 2015 report with these conclusions or any presentation to senior leaders,” the Fidelity spokesman said.