Death of an Employee at EY Resulted in Investigations of Overwork at the Big 4 Financial Services Firm

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The death of a young woman who worked at a big financial service firm in Sydney has led to discussions about the long, demanding hours employees at such companies have to work.

The alleged suicide of a 33-year-old female Ernst & Young employee, discovered at the company’s Sydney headquarters, has prompted a debate about corporate culture.

In the wake of the tragedy, it was revealed that the woman had been working up to 70 hours a week and had complained of being “stressed” and “overworked”.

“She was working 12-hour days, sometimes more … and she had told me that it was taking a toll on her health,” said one of the woman’s friends.

Investigations are ongoing, but the incident has spotlighted the long hours and demanding work culture at big firms in the financial services industry.

Besides Ernst and Young (also known as EY), there are three other large financial services firms in Australia: KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Deloitte.

According to reports, the EY employee was discovered shortly after midnight on Saturday. The woman’s identity and job have not been revealed, but police do not consider the incident suspicious and believe her death was linked to self-harm.

Before her death, the woman had been to an EY social function at The Ivy bar and nightclub. She left there at around 7:30 pm and returned to the offices.

The CEO of EY and the Regional Managing Partner David Larocca said they are “deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic events of the weekend”.

“We are working closely with the police to investigate the matter fully, and we can confirm that there is no evidence of any suspicious behaviour or circumstances,” Mr Larocca continued.

“Our thoughts are with the family, and we’ve offered our support and condolences.”

“We have started a wide-ranging internal review that covers health and safety, security, and social events. We are also offering to counsel all staff and team members.”

After the death, online commenters have observed the “stressful and competitive culture” of Big 4 financial services firms.

A former employee of a Big 4 firm wrote on Reddit, “I can see what she may be experiencing, having had to work many late nights and weekends myself. I took six months’ leave to reset mentally. After that, I ultimately quit.”

“Working for B4 (Big 4) might sometimes feel like being in a sweatshop. They aren’t concerned about your well-being. All they care about is producing, producing, producing,” stated another post.

Something needs to be done to address the issue of overwork at big firms, as it is taking a toll on employees’ mental health. Hopefully, this tragedy will lead to positive changes that will make these companies better places to work.

Disclaimer: We are not suggesting the work culture at EY contributed to the employee’s death.

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