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City trader tells court of 83 instances of alleged bullying and racial harassment | Financial sector

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A City trader who is locked in a legal battle after resigning from a job has filed court papers in Dubai alleging he was subjected to 83 instances of “bullying, harassment and racial discrimination” over three years.

Opeyemi Olayanju, 26, quit the City broker TP ICAP in December last year, alleging constructive dismissal because of “harassment, bullying and discrimination” at the firm in London.

He claims he has since been offered employment at a rival brokerage firm in Dubai but has been prevented from taking the role after an injunction was granted to TP ICAP in the United Arab Emirates courts in March.

TP ICAP denies racism and said: “It is unfortunately not unusual for brokers to seek to avoid their [contractual] obligations by making unfounded allegations of constructive dismissal.”

In court proceedings in Dubai to determine whether or not Olayanju can take up the new role, the trader’s evidence includes an appendix detailing 83 examples of alleged harassment, including instances he claims were racist, according to exchanges made during an open court hearing in August.

The filing reveals for the first time details of the frequency of the alleged harassment. Olayanju’s court papers add that the alleged abuse caused Olayanju’s health “to suffer as a consequence”.

The appendix detailing the instances is not currently public, but the trader has previously spoken about how he and another ​b​lack colleague were referred to as “the Africans,” and how Olayanju was nicknamed “n-Ope” or “n-Opy” in what he interpreted as a racist slur.

Olayanju’s papers also contain the conclusion of a formal grievance he filed last November, in which TP ICAP said: “It is apparent from the investigation that the working environment on the desk was volatile and that foul language was often used … it is likely you were subjected on occasion to derogatory comments, primarily by [two managers] … such treatment is wholly inappropriate and is not in keeping with the company’s values and code of conduct.”

However, the investigation concluded: “On occasion you may have been subjected to derogatory comments on the desk although I do not find any evidence this was related to your race.”

Prior to Olayanju outlining the 83 instances of alleged harassment, TP ICAP filed court papers saying his claims of bullying and racism were “grossly unparticularised” and made “without any proper particulars”. The papers added: “TP ICAP cannot respond to so vague and general a case, save by general denial.”

The firm declined to respond to the Guardian’s questions about Olayanju’s specific allegations, saying it would be inappropriate.

It said: “TP ICAP denies all allegations of racial discrimination and constructive dismissal in the strongest terms. TP ICAP is committed to promoting equality and diversity as part of our continuous efforts to build a positive, inclusive and meritocratic culture. Our code of conduct clearly sets out the principles and standards of behaviour we expect from all our employees.

“With regard to the alleged working environment on the emerging markets desk at TP ICAP, any issues that arose last year have been fully addressed and steps have been taken to ensure a positive working environment.”

A hearing on whether Olayanju can take up his new role is set for December in Dubai.


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Chinese to shun U.S. brands: AlixPartners

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A screen shows Alibaba’s sales volume exceeding 100 billion yuan after one hour during 2019 Alibaba 11.11 Global Shopping Festival on November 11, 2019 in Hangzhou, China.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

The e-commerce giant Alibaba‘s annual Singles Day shopping event could be a boon for Chinese brands, according to a new survey.

Sixty-six percent of Chinese consumers say they’ll be shopping for domestic brands over foreign labels during the shopping event, which is held on Nov. 11 each year. This is global consulting firm AlixPartners’ third survey tied to the event. It polled 2,029 adult Chinese consumers from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6. The majority surveyed, or 62%, cited “patriotism” as their reason for buying local. A year ago, 51% of those polled had a similar answer.

Spending overall is expected to eclipse previous records, as Chinese consumers rebound from the shutdowns put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Singles Day 2019 drew more than $38 billion in sales.

Thirty-nine percent of Chinese consumers plan to spend more on Singles Day this year compared with last, the survey found. Only 15% plan to spend less, it said, with the majority of those people citing the pandemic’s impact on the economy for their concern.

Fifty-seven percent of Chinese consumers plan to spend less money on American products this year, AlixPartners found. Thirty-nine percent plan to cull spending on European brands.

“Historically, American products scored very highly on [brand] attributes,” David Garfield, global co-leader of the consumer products practice at AlixPartners and a managing director at the firm, said in an interview. But, “Chinese consumers increasingly are feeling like they can get these benefits elsewhere,” he said. “It goes beyond geopolitical talk or any trade flow impact.”

Meanwhile, with international travel largely at a standstill, affluent Chinese consumers are splurging on luxury products at home. China is the top destination among consumers for luxury goods, at 43%, according to AlixPartners’ survey, followed by Japan, at 30%. The United States did not make the top four.

“It’s a genuine advancement on the part of Chinese manufacturers,” said Garfield. “They’re getting more sophisticated in their marketing of luxury products.”

The shift could have implications for American brands, including those in the luxury space, that have grown more reliant on Chinese spending. Tourism sales have plummeted during the pandemic at companies ranging from Macy’s to Tiffany.

This year will mark the 11th edition of the annual Singles Day event — also called the Double 11 shopping festival because it falls on Nov. 11. 


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Covid second wave: investing in Asia

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Covid second wave: investing in Asia