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Fidelity CEO says there's no tolerance for harassment, accusations will be investigated

The Washington Post

October 23. 2017 9:22PM
Fidelity Chairman and CEO Abigail Johnson, center, waits to take the stage at the Boston-based HubWeek in Boston on Oct. 13. (REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER)

Abigail Johnson, the chief executive of Fidelity Investments, told employees on Monday that the financial giant has no tolerance for “any type of harassment” after reports emerged alleging two company executives had been pushed out for sexual harassment.

The company recently began reviewing its operations, particularly in its powerful stock-picking unit, after forcing out former Fidelity portfolio manager C. Robert Chow earlier this month and Gavin Baker, a prominent tech fund manager, in September, according to two people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the cases.

Chow and Baker could not be reached for comment. An unnamed spokesman for Baker told the Wall Street Journal, which reported their dismissals earlier, that he “strenuously” denies the allegations.

Fidelity Investments is one of New Hampshire’s largest employers. The company employs about 5,700 at offices in Merrimack and Nashua.

In a brief video distributed to Fidelity’s 400,000 employees Monday morning, Johnson did not mentioned Chow or Baker by name. But Johnson said she expected employees to foster an environment where “all associates are treated with courtesy, compassion and respect.”

The company held an emergency meeting last week in the wake of dismissals of the two executives, according to a person familiar with the allegations. Brian Hogan, president of Fidelity’s stock-picking division, stressed the company’s intolerance of inappropriate workplace conduct during that meeting, the person said.

Here is part of a transcript of Johnson’s message:

“Today, I’d like to remind everyone that we have no tolerance at our company for any type of harassment. We simply will not, and do not tolerate this type of behavior, from anyone. When allegations of these sorts are brought to our attention, we investigate them promptly and take appropriate action.’’

The allegations come amid heightened sensitivity to sexual harassment complaints in corporate America. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was recently fired as the head of his company after reports surfaced that he had harassed dozens of women over decades.

And Wall Street has long fought its reputation as a place where women and minorities struggle to succeed.

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