PLUS: TOXIC TECH FIRM SCRAMBLES TO HIRE NEW HEAD OF DIVERSITY
There are signs that Kubrick Group – one of the few big tech outsourcing firms still charging large graduate ‘exit fees’ – is under growing pressure to scrap the policy, following revelations by Graduate Fog last week which appear to have shocked their clients.
Having previously published evidence that Kubrick charges graduates up to £19,800 if they leave their job in less than two years (supposedly to cover just 15 weeks of training), last week we explained why we believe Kubrick are also asking departing graduates to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), whether they pay all, part or none of the fees demanded.
This appears to serve to silence these graduates so that clients, campaigners and current Kubrick graduates will remain in the dark about what is really going on. But leaks from graduates mean that momentum against the company is finally building, said Graduate Fog’s founder, Tanya de Grunwald:
“This is not how good employers behave. These are the actions of a firm that is desperate to maintain control over employees who hate them, and a scandal that has already unravelled.”
We also published an email in which a senior HR spokesperson completely ignored our allegations about whether Kubrick were issusing NDAs, and instead insisted:
‘We know that our consultants chose to join Kubrick because of the quality of our industry leading training, our reputation as an employer who accelerates individual careers and our removal of the huge financial barriers which are preventing people from entering the data industry…
‘We are committed to ensuring that Kubrick remains an employer of choice, to being transparent with our people about our model, to hiring the very best candidates at the start of their careers and removing the social and financial barriers preventing people from entering our industry.”
How have Kubrick’s clients reacted?
Not well – we get the distinct impression that they have all been startled by evidence published on Graduate Fog, and were not ready to respond to it.
Despite facing exceptionally serious allegations that each firm has 100 Kubrick graduates currently working on-site at their organisation – some of which are unable to leave unless they pay £19,800 to Kubrick – Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) has not replied to our emails requesting a response, and a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said they ‘decline to comment.’ (About allegations this serious? Wow…)
Investment banks Credit Suisse and Nomura (who are likely to have smaller numbers of Kubrick graduates on placements with them – but not zero) also declined to comment. And we had no response at all from Nationwide or Shell, and Sainsbury’s said:
“A tiny number of colleagues (less than 20 out of approx. 165,000, so less than 0.01%) have been contracted with us through Kubrick in the last few years. Feedback on the programme we work with them to offer has been nothing but positive. We also have no record of any colleague working with Sainsbury’s through Kubrick who has incurred the cancellation fee you reference.”
Let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves that all these client companies claim to be champions of diversity and social mobility. Yet this is how they behave when asked to respond in real time to serious allegations about a practice that the Social Mobility Foundation has said disproportionately impacts young people from ethnic minorities and lower socio economic backgrounds.
Have any of the client firms stepped up?
Yes! By far the most positive response has come from Sky, whose spokesperson says they are ‘in discussions’ with Kubrick following the latest revelations on Graduate Fog. This might not sound significant, but regular Graduate Fog readers will remember that Sky appeared to be instrumental in triggering the announcement that FDM were scrapping exit fees (of up to £15,000) at the end of May, after we exposed an apparent mis-match between what Sky had been told by FDM and what FDM’s graduates had been told. Did they feel they had been misled? Were they furious? We don’t know. But we do know that the following day 2,000 FDM graduates were told they were free to leave FDM without paying a penny.
Yesterday, the Sky spokesperson told Graduate Fog they could not go into detail yet, due to a ‘confidentiality agreement’ between Sky and Kubrick. (We’re unclear which side issued this document – is Kubrick now asking its own clients to sign NDAs? What is happening here?!). But Sky promised that the firm would ‘provide a more comprehensive update’ very soon. Which all sounds very much like Kubrick has been hauled in for some very robust discussions with Sky, who are probably sick of the whole topic of ‘exit fees’ after all the hassle FDM caused them, too…
What other signs are there that Kubrick’s execs are sweating?
Are you ready for this? They’ve advertised for a new Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion role. This job advert has appeared on LinkedIn:
Given the timing of this advert, it seems likely that this is either a kneejerk response to Kubrick execs realising their company policies and culture are toxifying (and therefore devaluing) their brand – or perhaps it is an attempt to assure nervy clients that they are serious about changing their ways. You decide…
What are Kubrick graduates saying?
This is the best bit! We are happy to report that they are organising, and planning their escape. Tanya de Grunwald, Graduate Fog’s founder, says she has connected more than a dozen Kubrick graduates in the last two weeks, one of whom has become known as their unofficial ringleader. As Tanya explains:
‘Graduates trapped by exit fees contracts are terrified – and it can be hard for them to know who they can trust. Their contracts are so restrictive that they fear that being reported for even the slightest display of disloyalty could see them thrown out of the company and have to pay their exit fees in full.
‘Kubrick graduates always ask the same thing: “How can I get out without paying the huge sum they say I owe?” I tell them that until Kubrick announce that they are scrapping the fees, there is no magic wand. However, now that we know that Kubrick are feeling the heat from clients, they’d be unwise to get heavy with departing graduates for these crazy fees, which have always seemed unjustifiable given the length of the training, and the quality described by participants.
‘And remember – Kubrick have no idea which graduates are in touch with me, which is probably making them paranoid. This tactic worked against FDM, and there are signs it will be similarly effective against Kubrick.’
We’ll keep you informed as this story develops…
* ARE KUBRICK’S CLIENTS DOING ENOUGH?
Or are you disappointed by the failure of AstraZeneca, Lloyds Banking Group, Sainsbury’s, Nationwide, Credit Suisse and Nomura to step up and back the graduates stuck in these contracts on their premises? Have your say, below…