U.K. Treasury Kept Secret on Women Who Wanted Tucker Job

The U.K. Treasury said so few women could potentially have applied to replace Paul Tucker at the Bank of England that it can’t divulge exactly how many did so.

“Given the high profile of the role and the media interest, and in particular the fact that any female candidates were unsuccessful, it would be unfair to disclose this,” the Treasury said in a Nov. 26 letter to Bloomberg News on the hiring of the central bank’s deputy governor for financial stability. “Given the small pool of potential applicants, release could lead to the identification of applicants.”

Of 27 candidates, fewer than five were women, none of whom met the job requirements, the Treasury said in a Sept. 4 reply to a Bloomberg News Freedom of Information request. It refused a second request for the precise number in the Nov. 26 letter, citing data protection laws. Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne said in July that Jon Cunliffe would succeed Tucker.

Governor Mark Carney has described the absence of women on the Monetary Policy Committee as “striking.” The Treasury’s view that there was a “small pool” of potential female applicants contrasts with the assessment of lawmakers such as Andrea Leadsom, who suggested to Carney this week that she could provide a list of 100 suitable candidates for senior central bank jobs.

The Treasury has previously revealed the number of women who applied for policy making roles. In 2011, it said only one woman applied to the MPC to replace Andrew Sentance, a position that was awarded to Ben Broadbent. Of the 29 applications for the role vacated by Adam Posen last year, seven were from women.

White Males

Of those who applied for Tucker’s job, fewer than five were Asian, and leaving out the women who applied, the rest were white males, the Treasury said. There was a shortlist of four candidates who were interviewed. The Treasury also said that it does not hold information on whether applicants were asked to apply. Headhunters weren’t used.

“The government would like to see a greater number of women apply for future appointments,” the Treasury said at the time of Broadbent’s appointment. It said in the September 2013 letter to Bloomberg that the interview panel “expressed their disappointment” that so few women applied.

Since becoming governor in July, Carney has faced questions on the shortage of women in policy making. There have been no females on the MPC since Kate Barker stepped down in 2010, and the first woman on the bank’s Financial Policy Committee, in operation since 2011, was appointed this year. The bank’s most senior female employee is Chief Operating Officer Charlotte Hogg, hired this year.

100 Women

The European Central Bank, which doesn’t have any women on its 23-member rate-setting Governing Council, last week named France’s Daniele Nouy as its pick to lead the euro-region’s new bank supervisor.

“The recruitment of staff for the single European banking supervisor will be a litmus test for our new strategy,” ECB Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said in Brussels today, referring to its pledge to double the share of women in management roles. “Gender diversity is high on the agenda of the ECB and it will stay there until we achieve our targets.”

Governor Challenged

In the U.K., Carney has said that the BOE must do more to promote “diversity in macroeconomic thinking.” Leadsom, a member of Parliament’s Treasury Committee, challenged the governor on the matter on Nov. 26.

“In your five months in the job, have you concluded, as no doubt your colleagues must have done, that half the population has no role in the senior leadership of the Bank of England?” she said at a committee hearing. “Or would you like a list of 100 brilliant senior experienced and capable women to consider to take on some of these senior posts?”

We “would welcome any recommendations for anyone to reinforce the human capital at the Bank of England,” Carney replied. “I fully expect that such issues will be central to our priorities in the coming years.”

Leadsom said today officials could find women suitable for a role on the bank’s policy-making panels or within regulatory bodies “if they tried.”

“There are many highly talented women in senior positions in finance and banking,” she said in an e-mail. “If they don’t try, then I’m equally sure they will continue to be disappointed by the lack of female applicants.”

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