Nothing to be proud of: The verdict

Read the CISI's verdict on the Grey Matters ethical dilemma that appears in the October 2021 edition of The Review
by Amrita Bhogal, CISI professional standards and ethics manager

nothing to be proud of verdict
Read the October 2021 dilemma

This Grey Matter, published in the October 2021 edition of The Review magazine, presents a scenario where Will, a new starter, has suspicions that his CEO has discriminated against clients in a same sex relationship. In this dilemma, what should Will do next?

Suggested solutions and results are as follows:

  1. Quit. It's clearly not the right kind of environment for Will to work in. (6%)
  2. Write privately to the Glads, informing them of his suspicion that Seth did not want them as clients because of their sexual orientation. (2%)
  3. Speak to the chair and raise his suspicions that Seth may have discriminated against the Glads because they are a same-sex couple. (91%)
  4. He has no evidence that the Glads' sexuality was the reason for Seth not taking them on as a couple, so can do nothing in this regard. However, it may be worth him speaking to HR about the culture in the firm – which he feels is not fully inclusive. (1%)

Responses received: 122

The CISI verdict

The dilemma highlights the issues of discrimination and not being able to bring your whole authentic self to work. While organisations are learning how to create a positive corporate culture, this is something that must be instilled from top down, and in this dilemma, there seems to be a disconnect.

Will has to deal with the issue that clients were potentially discriminated against because of their same sex relationship. Will should consider what action is the most impartial, straightforward and informed. The CISI Code of Conduct specifically highlights principles that may help Will reach his decision: Client focus; Conflict of interest; Speak Up & Listen Up

Our recommended solution is option 3. It is important that every organisation has the correct tools to be able to raise a concern. In this case, Will should be able to speak to the chair in confidence to talk about the behaviour he has witnessed. This will provide him with the opportunity to understand more about the next steps and whether matters need to be discussed further.

Selection of comments received from members

  • Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is an offence under the Equality Act, but Will might need to check why the heterosexual couple was accepted as clients first, just to reinforce his suspicion that discrimination has taken place.
  • Hard one. He will have to quit eventually as it is the CEO. The question is whether reaching out to the chair would actually serve a purpose.
  • Will must not 'accuse' Seth but raise a suspicion using the information that he has at hand.
  • The CEO visibly has a bad opinion of same sex couples and should have had better judgement than to make homophobic statements, given the effect it could have on Will, not because of his sexual orientation but because he is a new recruit, and the CEO should be offering a better image to such a young person who could become homophobic as a result of this exposure. Writing to the Glads is a breach of work ethics and should not be pursued. Speaking to the chair seems to be the only proper active line of reaction to adopt.
  • While it may not be clear that the Glads were turned down because they are a same sex couple, Seth did hear the homophobic term and this is unacceptable from anyone let alone the CEO who should be promoting an inclusive organisation and demonstrating an appropriate 'tone from the top'.
  • This would be an extremely difficult step to take, especially being new to the firm, but hopefully the chair would be able to address this matter in an appropriate and professional manner that does not have a negative impact on Will and deals with any potential prejudice issues in the firm.
  • Quit. Move on. The CEO will always be a stumbling block to any progression in the firm and Will won’t ever feel comfortable. Don't waste time and effort from within. Seek out an organisation which is really inclusive and doesn't use 'words' to say so.
  • As a minimum Will should speak out about the use of the derogatory homophobic language by Seth. He should include in his speak out report his broader contextual concerns. If Will is nervous about speaking out transparently to Seth's line manager he should utilise the firm's whistleblowing procedures.
  • He should consider quitting as well; it sounds like a toxic workspace, and the top-down culture is an offensive anachronism.

This verdict is published in the March 2022 edition of The Review.
Should you wish to suggest a dilemma or topic to be featured in a future Grey Matter, please contact us at

Published: 04 Apr 2022
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • Integrity & Ethics
  • homophobia
  • verdict
  • grey matters ethical dilemma
  • Code of Conduct

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