UK retailer Ted Baker to investigate company culture of hugging

06 December, 2018, 13:00 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Willy Barton  Shutterstock

More than 200 employees launched a petition, saying they want to "put an end to the awkward "hugging" policy", and also accused the company founder, Ray Kelvin, of harassment.

"Plenty of people might have sat on Ted Baker's knee".

Mr Kelvin is worth £522m according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Kelvin allegedly "tries to massage people around the office, insists on long hugs with staff members, touches them inappropriately and openly asks his staff for sex", according to the petition. It also calls for new procedures allowing employees to report harassment to an "independent, external body". "I was a 21 year old girl and it was my first ever "proper" job", one statement on the petition reads.

Sales at Ted Baker are tipped to rise 5 per cent in the third quarter, compared with 8 per cent growth during the same period a year earlier.

It said Mr Kelvin greeted many people with a hug, "be it a shareholder, investor, supplier, partner, customer or colleague".

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The authors of the petition say there are "a lot of really positive things about working at Ted Baker but they're often overshadowed by the "hugging" and inappropriate touching and comments".

The company said in a statement: "Having very recently been made aware of the petition, we are now in dialogue with Organise to understand the details and nature of the claims".

"An independent committee of the non-executive directors has been appointed to ensure that the views and concerns are recognised and carefully considered and that appropriate responses are taken forward".

Although complaints have been brushed off in the past, the brand promises "a thorough independent investigation is carried out". "Harassment at Ted Baker is well documented but wilfully ignored by those in charge". Pursuing the issue through HR had been "hopelessly".

Several of the 64 respondents to a survey said they had reported the behaviour to HR but had been told "that's just what Ray's like".

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