Testimonies from 40 women in British banking, insurance, and asset management industries have criticised the City of London’s diversity initiatives as being “tokenistic” and “lacking teeth”. The testimonies were released ahead of the final session of a parliamentary inquiry into sexism in the City. Attendees at a roundtable event held last year said that the finance world had been affected little by the #MeToo movement with “misogynistic mindsets remain[ing] widespread”. Many participants reported experiencing sexual harassment and said there were few effective channels for reporting complaints.
Women in Finance Criticize City of London’s ‘Tokenistic’ Diversity Efforts
Testimonies from 40 women across banking, insurance, and asset management in Britain describe diversity and inclusion initiatives as often “tokenistic,” and lacking the “teeth” to make a change in an industry where misogynistic attitudes linger.
Leaders from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority spoke on the issues and the regulators’ proposals to boost diversity and inclusion within firms.
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Attendees of the roundtable said that wider social changes have barely affected the finance world since the #MeToo movement that brought sexism to the fore half a decade ago. Although issues such as sexist “office banter” have abated, the testimonies said that “misogynistic mindsets remained widespread, with behaviors having instead become more underhand and pernicious.” Most of the attendees had experienced sexual harassment or knew of colleagues who had.
The testimonies also described company HR systems that were inadequate for dealing with complaints, with attendees saying “HR’s role was clearly to protect the firm rather than support the victim.” Little or no action was being taken for most allegations of sexual misconduct, they said — and often the woman reporting the incident faced repercussions, including being forced out the industry altogether.
“Many felt that a woman needed to be prepared to lose her career in order for her to report a case of sexual harassment,” the summary said. “We see this evidence come to us also as the leaders of the FCA and it’s deeply troubling,” said Nikhil Rathi, chief executive for the FCA, at the Parliamentary inquiry.