Manulife CEO apologises for executives' spoof rap video

Manulife said that the video, in which executives wore hoodies and sunglasses, was meant to be "lighthearted." ST PHOTO: KELLY HUI

TORONTO (BLOOMBERG) - Manulife Financial Corp's chief executive officer Roy Gori apologised to employees for a spoof rap video that was part of the executive team's year-end message.

The internal video, the third in an annual series featuring different music genres, was retracted after some employees said they were offended by it.

The Toronto-based insurer said that the video, in which executives wore hoodies and sunglasses, was meant to be "lighthearted."

"We regret creating this video, removed it immediately and held a forum to apologise to and hear directly from our employees," Manulife said in an emailed statement on Monday (Jan 6). "We strive to have an environment where all employees are treated with respect and dignity, and the recent video clearly didn't meet that objective."

Finance executives have increasingly turned to humorous videos in an attempt to connect with employees, sometimes eliciting laughs and sometimes groans.

Manulife's video, with participation by mostly white managers, comes at a time of heightened sensitivity over issues such as race relations, cultural misappropriation and workplace diversity.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced accusations of racial insensitivity during a re-election bid last year after photos surfaced of him wearing brown- and black-face makeup when he was younger. In November, long-time Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry was fired following backlash over comments he made in a broadcast about immigrants.

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