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Accounting and consulting firm EY emailed employees with continued support following the death of a young employee at its Sydney headquarters in the early morning hours while her unwitting husband was on his way to Australia.
The death of the 33-year-old, who has rocked the world of corporate accounting, happened after the woman returned to the office at 7:30 p.m. — about two hours after joining colleagues for drinks at Ivy nightclub on Friday night.
Then, about five hours later, just after midnight, a construction worker and his colleague working on a site adjacent to George Street headquarters heard a bang as the woman fell on the awning over the front entrance of the building.
Police determined that the woman used her security pass to gain access to a secure patio on the top floors of the building.
A woman was found dead early Saturday morning in front of Ernst & Young’s Sydney headquarters (pictured) after leaving a work event
The worker said guards at the property raised the alarm as police and paramedics rushed to the area and sealed off the scene.
A detective and uniformed police officer were seen Tuesday morning with a woman in the reception area of the building
The employee was shocked to learn the details of the incident from the first responders at the scene.
“There was a big blue tarpaulin over her… it’s terrible and so tragic.
‘We were quite shocked. We had no idea. It’s terrible, the poor woman.’
It is understood that the woman was a stranger who worked for EY for about six months.
Her husband was on a flight from Singapore to Australia when the woman fell.
He learned of her fate when he got off the plane at Sydney airport, the Australian reported.
The employee’s death has shaken the accounting industry, which is now in the midst of auditing season, as some of the county’s brightest number-crunchers race to meet deadlines for powerful clients.
Daily Mail Australia does not suggest that the work culture at EY contributed to the tragic circumstances, and the position of the woman at the company and personal circumstances are unknown.
Employees at EY (the trading name of the firm Ernst & Young) received an email Monday from a member of management telling them that “It is with great sadness that I share the news that one of our team members has passed away in the EY building in Sydney over the weekend’.
The woman returned to Ernst and Young’s central office in Sydney around 7:30 p.m. Friday (pictured). She was found dead hours later
READ THE EY EMAIL
It is with great sadness that I share the news that one of our team members passed away this weekend at the EY building in Sydney.
While the police investigation is ongoing, we learned that there were no suspicious circumstances.
We have reached out to the affected person’s family to offer our condolences and continued support.
This loss of a colleague is deeply saddening, I want to assure you all that we will continue to offer support in as many ways as possible. This includes our EAP service which is available to all EY employees and their families.
As a result of this tragedy, we are conducting a comprehensive and comprehensive internal review that includes health and safety, security and social events. Jono Nicholas, our Chief Mental Health Advisor, will play a key role in guiding and advising on our progress.
“While the police investigation is ongoing, we have been informed that there were no suspicious circumstances,” the email read.
“We have reached out to the person’s family to offer our condolences and continued support.”
The email said the company would launch a “comprehensive and broad internal review” of its health and safety, security and social policies following the tragedy.
A group of EY employees told the Daily Mail Australia that employees had received guidance.
A uniformed NSW police officer and a detective were at the scene Tuesday morning meeting with senior bosses.
“This is the worst-case scenario, so management is doing everything they can,” said one employee.
‘We’ve never experienced anything like this. It’s horrible… it’s so horrible.”
According to the employees, who did not know the woman, the company consists of several teams of about 30 to 40 people each.
“The ‘work hard, play hard’ (culture) depends on your team,” they said. “Some are like that, some aren’t.”
The woman arrived at the bar around 5:30 p.m. Friday for an event hosted by the accounting giant’s social club.
She spent the next two hours there, leaving just before 7:30 p.m. for the short walk back to her office.
Police searched CCTV footage from nearby cameras (pictured) to piece together the woman’s last moments
Police do not consider the death “suspicious” and are still investigating what happened after she had her last drink.
It is alleged that she was escorted by site personnel for excessive alcohol consumption, The Australian reported.
But CCTV footage seen by investigators as she returned to 200 George Street in Circular Quay, overlooking Sydney Harbour, did not suggest she was noticeably intoxicated.
It also remains unclear whether the employee returned to the skyscraper to work into the evening or whether she was there for some other reason.
Temporary repairs have been made to a canopy damaged in the incident, but blood has yet to be cleared from the scene
Flower tribute was conspicuously absent from the scene on Tuesday morning, as countless workers poured in and out of the building, walking under the blood-soaked canopy.
A homicide detective and a uniformed officer were seen entering the building and waiting in the lobby for a woman to arrive to greet them, before taking the couple upstairs.
In recent years, EY, along with the other major accounting firms – KPMG, Deloitte and PWC – has been criticized for its extreme working hours and competitive corporate culture.
Last year, an email from bosses within EY’s financial services team in Hong Kong laid out their grueling “peak season work protocol and expectations.” There is no suggestion that the same edict applies in Australia.
“Staff must start work at 9.30am and finish no earlier than 11.30pm,” the email reads.
“I think midnight is customary in the high season – it relies on your discipline and responsibility.
‘On the weekend I expect that we will be in the office all day (10 am – 7:30 pm) for at least one day.’
The woman found dead in Ernst and Young’s central Sydney office had spent two hours earlier in the evening at Sydney’s glitzy watering hole, the Ivy nightclub (pictured)
The company’s management is now ready to a ‘comprehensive and broad internal assessment covering health and safety, security and social events in relation to our employees’.
EY CEO and Regional Managing Partner David Larocca said the company’s employees were advised about the tragedy.
“Our Chief Mental Health Officer will be part of an ongoing review and has been instrumental in providing ongoing advice and guidance this weekend,” he said.
‘Counseling has been offered to all employees and team members.’
EY is also assisting police with their ongoing investigation while preparing a report for the coroner.
“Our hearts go out to the family and we have been in touch to express our support and condolences,” said Mr. Larocca.
Call for confidential 24 hour support in Australia Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Who are Ernst & Young?
Ernst & Young is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious accounting and consulting firms with approximately 600 offices worldwide.
The company, now known as EY, conducts audits for some of the world’s largest companies and consults with governments on business risk, technology and human resources services.
The company, headquartered in the United Kingdom, is worth more than $40 billion.
International customers include Hewlett Packard computers, US telecom giant AT&T, Coca Cola, General Motors, Hilton hotels and Lockheed Martin.
EY’s Australian clients include retail giant Wesfarmers, Telstra, energy and minerals giants Newcrest Mining and Woodside Petroleum, as well as several government agencies.
The post-financial period ends on June 30 and is considered one of the peak times when large companies will require audits.
Those who work in the highly competitive corporate environment today know that they are working long hours.