Ted Baker is launching an independent investigation into its company culture following a petition from staff over “forced hugging” at the business.
The petition was arranged through website Organise, which helps workers to petition for changes at their workplaces. It was allegedly launched by a Ted Baker employee, and calls for the business to put an end to “harassment” and “forced hugging” by CEO Ray Kelvin.
It claims Kelvin has asked “young female members of staff to sit on his knee” and “regularly makes sexual innuendos at staff”.
In a statement Ted Baker said while hugs are part of the Ted Baker culture they are not mandatory: “Ted Baker has always placed great importance on the company’s culture and owes everything to the commitment of our people. It is critically important to us that every member of our staff feels valued and respected at work.
“Ray greets many people he meets with a hug, be it a shareholder, investor, supplier, partner, customer or colleague. Hugs have become part of Ted Baker’s culture, but are absolutely not insisted upon.
“Having very recently been made aware of the petition, we are now in dialogue with Organise to understand the details and nature of the claims.
“We have very clear and robust HR policies in place to provide all employees with a wide range of reporting options for any issues that they might encounter, including a completely confidential and anonymous, 24/7 helpline.
“While the claims made are entirely at odds with the values of our business and those of our CEO, we take them very seriously and will ensure that a thorough independent investigation is carried out. We will then carefully consider the content and recommendations of that report.”