Credit Suisse, a leading investment bank, has apologised for “any offence caused” after the New York Times reported that its former CEO, who is from Ivory Coast, left his chairman’s birthday party when a black performer dressed as a janitor danced on stage, the UK Guardian reports.
Tidjane Thiam, who ran the Swiss bank between 2015 and February this year, was the only black attendee at Urs Rohner’s 60th birthday.
He walked out of the room during the act, the New York Times said.
The party held in November last year featured 1970s costumes and performers. Mr Rohner’s friends also performed on stage, all of them wearing Afro wigs, the report said.
Mr Thiam, 58, lost his job amid a spying scandal at the bank. He was the only black executive at the top of a major global bank.
The New York Times reports that interviews with sources suggest that race contributed to Mr Thiam’s departure.
Credit Suisse said it had launched a number of initiatives to foster diversity across the bank, including a programme to hire, retain and advance black talent, the Guardian reports.
The bank apologised when contacted by the Guardian, but said the birthday event was not meant to cause offence.
“This is a total mischaracterisation of the evening. There was never any intention to cause offence, and we are sorry for any offence caused,” it said.