Lloyd's of London wants to end its drink-and-drugs culture: 'If you don't take cocaine, people these days seem to think there's something wrong with you'

  • One of the world’s oldest insurers is cracking down on day drinking and drug taking with a new code of conduct.
  • Lloyd’s of London, a 331-year-old institution, says it will bar anyone deemed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol from its building, even if they are not an employee.
  • The company banned drinking between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. among its staff two years ago amid continued claims of drunkenness and sexual harassment in the workplace. The new ban extends to anyone entering the building.
  • “I’ve seen more responsible drinking over the years, but a rise in drugs,” one employee told the BBC. “If you don’t take cocaine, people these days seem to think there’s something wrong with you.”
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The bars and pubs surrounding the historic insurer Lloyd’s of London may take a hit in coming weeks after the 331-year-old company opted to implement a new code of conduct barring substance use by staff and clients.

It’s part of a broad crackdown at the company to end a culture of alcohol and substance use during office hours. The insurer’s work culture has seen it face repeated claims of sexual harassment. Now the firm says anyone deemed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be stopped from entering the building, with security guards able to remove passes if needed.

It follows a decision two years ago by then-CEO Inga Beale to bar the staff from drinking between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The practice is common elsewhere in The City, where finance employees can routinely be seen drinking in pubs in the middle of the day. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek story outlined a pervasive culture of sexual harassment within the London institution that painted Lloyd’s as a boozy bygone at the heart of London’s financial district.

The initial day-drinking ban covered only some 800 staff members. The company is now looking to prevent some 40,000 pass holders who use the space from entering while under the influence,according to the BBC. Pubs around the institution have been known to see workers arriving at 7 a.m. to have a few pints or down vodka before heading in for a day of bartering insurance contracts.

Lloyd’s culture has been hard to shift, with some inside the business reluctant to change from what is seen as intrinsic to the business. “I’ve seen more responsible drinking over the years, but a rise in drugs,” one employee told the BBC. “If you don’t take cocaine, people these days seem to think there’s something wrong with you.”

The firm’s current boss, John Neal, is determined to stamp out bad behaviour. A hotline has been set up for sexual-harassment complaints, and an on-site bar is being turned into a coffee shop as part of the changes, as reported by the BBC.

“The update to rules for accessing Lloyd’s premises is just one part of our wider action plan to stamp out inappropriate behaviour in the Lloyd’s market,” the firm told Business Insider in a statement. “We are serious about delivering on our commitment to change the culture for the better, ensuring Lloyd’s is a safe and inclusive environment for all our members.”

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