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Bermuda fifth highest in corporate penalties

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Gina Drosos, brought in as CEO of Signet Jewellers in 2017, after her predecessor was at the centre of a sprawling gender-discrimination case (Photograph supplied)

An American gender discrimination suit against a Bermuda-domiciled company has helped to drive the island into fifth place in the world in terms of fined financial companies.

According to a newly released report from finance broker Forex Suggest, penalties against Bermuda companies made up 2.57 per cent of global fines.

Forex Suggest analysed factors such as fines per year, total amount penalised and percentage of shares to reveal the most fined financial companies in the world.

Bermuda placed behind the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Australia, but ahead of countries such as Germany and Canada.

Contributing to Bermuda’s unfavourable ranking was a fine against Signet Jewelers, one of the world’s largest retailers of diamond jewellery with brands such as Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared, among others.

According to the Good Jobs First Violation Tracker website, Signet received a $175,000,000 fine in an employment-discrimination suit.

Last June, Signet announced the multimillion-dollar settlement, resolving claims on behalf of 68,000 female Sterling Jewelers employees that the retailer paid women less, and promoted them less often, than men.

Pay and promotions, mainly for sales associates, from around 2004 to 2018, were at the heart of the suit.

The case drew greater attention after some female Sterling employees submitted sworn statements that they had been sexually harassed.

A recent statement on the Signet website from chief executive Virginia Drosos said they have changed their ways.

She wrote: “I’m very proud of the company we are. We’ve transformed Signet’s culture and made changes that ensure pay equity, diverse hiring and promotion practices, and abundant personal growth opportunities.

“Interventions like these have earned us recognition as a Great Place to Work Certified Company for the second year in a row, recognition by Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index for four years in a row and, most recently, participation in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.”

Other Bermudian-based companies on the Good Jobs First violations tracker list for penalties in 2022 were Arch Insurance, with $720,000 for consumer protection-related offences, and agribusiness Bunge, with a $12,431 fine for workplace safety/health violations. Bunge moved its headquarters to Switzerland last month.

In the Forex Suggest report, the United States had the highest number of fines at 3,045, accounting for 72.36 per cent of fines issued.

Bermudian-based companies such as Signet, Arch Insurance and Bunge appeared on the Good Jobs First website’s violations tracker list for receiving penalties in 2022 (File photograph)

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Published January 19, 2023 at 7:51 am (Updated January 19, 2023 at 7:51 am)

Bermuda fifth highest in corporate penalties

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