Scottish Daily Mail

Sexism STILL endemic in the City

Superwoman Morrissey blasts ‘old boys’ network as she calls for regulator to show ‘more teeth’

- By Emily Hawkins

THE financial services sector is still run by an ‘old boys’ network’ that allows sexual harassment and misogyny to go unchecked, MPs heard yesterday.

Speaking as the Treasury committee launched its sexism in the City inquiry, fund management grandee Baroness Morrissey, said sexism was ‘endemic’ across the financial services industry.

She called for independen­t reviews into how firms deal with complaints of sexual harassment, adding that watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, could better use its powers to tackle the problem – including penalising firms for failing to act.

The City has been reeling after a string of sexual allegation­s against hedge fund manager Crispin Odey spanning three decades were revealed this summer.

The FCA has since proposed rules to tackle non-financial workplace misconduct, including toughening its ‘fit and proper persons’ test for individual­s.

But MPs were told yesterday the watchdog must be clearer on the behaviour that is not acceptable and ensure there were serious consequenc­es for perpetrato­rs.

The FCA must have ‘real teeth’ and issue clear guidance for firms on what is unacceptab­le. Independen­t investigat­ions may also be needed to ensure adequate action is taken, Morrissey said.

She added that ‘fear factor’ was deterring women from reporting harassment and assault to their superiors. ‘I think it very much still feels to women as an old boys’ network,’ she said.

The 57-year-old is known as a City superwoman for reaching the top of asset management while raising nine children.

Some 20 women working in the City had submitted testimonie­s to Morrissey’s initiative The Diversity Project describing their experience­s of bullying, sexual assault and unequal pay.

She was struck by all the women’s ‘nervousnes­s’. She added that there was a widespread ‘distrust’ and a fear HR department­s would side with a firm or the alleged perpetrato­r.

Women had also said that when they escalated complaints, reporting the situation had ‘made their working lives worse’ to the point that some quit their jobs.

‘So it is very rational for people to think, “I’m not going to report something,”’ she said. Odey Asset Management had been a ‘powerful case study’ that boards and management teams must ‘undertake training on risks to their firm, as well as the impact on individual­s if upheld complaints are not properly addressed,’ the Diversity Project said in evidence submitted to the inquiry.

Sanctions could also be imposed on boards that fail to handle ‘serious complaints’ properly, it said.

Fiona Mackenzie, chief executive of think-tank The Other Half, said the level of sexual harassment was ‘so extreme and so out of control’ she said.

‘Really toothy interventi­on’ from regulators could include fines for failing to address allegation­s seriously, she added.

In evidence submitted to the inquiry, the FCA said: ‘We will shortly clarify how firms should treat instances of non-financial misconduct when carrying out an assessment of fitness and propriety, and the type of conduct that would amount to a breach of our conduct rules.’

The inquiry also heard that there was still a lack of equal representa­tion in top jobs at financial services firms.

Many women leaving the City after having children due to inflexible working models, MPs were told.

Five years after a Treasury committee report concluded that women remained under-represente­d in the top finance jobs, Morrissey said there were ‘big pockets’ in the sector where no improvemen­ts had been made.

Only 12pc of named fund managers, who run an account with their name on, are women – which had ‘hardly changed in the 36 years I’ve been in the City,’ Morrissey added.

Mark Freed, boss of E2W and Men for Inclusion, which offers career support to women in the sector said that women face being ‘interrupte­d in meetings, having ideas stolen, only being promoted on past performanc­e rather than potential’.

 ?? ?? Fear factor: Baroness Morrissey told MPs sexual harassment and misogyny goes unchecked
Fear factor: Baroness Morrissey told MPs sexual harassment and misogyny goes unchecked

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