TMX board reviewing allegations over CEO’s past conduct
The board of TMX Group Ltd. says it is looking into allegations surrounding past conduct of chief executive Lou Eccleston, stemming from his time as a senior manager at Bloomberg LP more than 15 years ago.
An article published Tuesday by Business Insider reported on a series of employee lawsuits against Bloomberg LP that alleged a past “sexualized” environment and culture at the company owned by Michael Bloomberg, a former New York mayor who recently entered the U.S. presidential race.
Eccleston, who worked at Bloomberg for 14 years before leaving in 2002, is not named as a defendant in any of the harassment lawsuits. However, the online article said some employees accused him in court records and filings with the New York Division of Human Rights of inappropriate behaviour involving women.
“While TMX Group has no comment on these specific allegations at this time, we take allegations of this nature seriously,” the company said late Tuesday in a statement, noting that it “recently” became aware of the allegations and that the board is looking into the matter.
“Mr. Eccleston has informed the board that he supports this course of action,” the statement said, adding that the company would update stakeholders “as the situation requires.”
Eccleston has been the CEO of Canada’s dominant stock exchange since late 2014. He took the job after roles at McGraw Hill Financial and some of its units including S&P Capital IQ. Earlier in his career, in addition to Bloomberg, he worked at companies including Thomson Financial and Standard & Poor’s.
In response to a request for comment, Bloomberg LP sent a written statement that said the firm “strongly supports a culture that treats all employees with dignity and respect, and enforces that culture through clear policies and practices.” The statement added that sexual harassment “is prohibited and offenders face termination.”
Boards don’t want surprises
Richard Leblanc, professor, York University
Richard Leblanc, a professor of law, governance and ethics at York University, said it is prudent for any board to take allegations of harassment very seriously, even if the alleged behaviour occurred many years ago.
“There is no statute of limitations on reputation,” he said.
Leblanc — who wrote a guidebook of sorts for companies in the #MeToo era, which followed the high-profile harassment allegations against former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in 2017 — said directors of companies where allegations of impropriety or past impropriety are raised are likely to face questions about when they first learned about them.
“If it’s a number of years ago, (it could be that) social norms have changed,” he said. “You can explain it, but the board needs to know what the facts are…. There are some things you can’t explain.”
Leblanc said some companies now require new hires to make full disclosure of any past indiscretions, events, or activities that could bring reputational harm to the company.
“Boards don’t want surprises,” he said.
To that end, Leblanc said some companies are also doing ongoing culture surveys, as well as background checks, and social media and personality screenings — not only of new hires but of current employees as well.