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Women Are Losing Out at ‘Alpha Male’ U.K. Banks, Panel Says

Updated on
  • Treasury Committee recommends more formulaic payout criteria
  • Report into women in finance says culture damaging diversity
U.K. Lawmaker Nicky Morgan, former Minister for Women and Equalities, discusses banking’s gender pay gap.

U.K. lawmakers are calling for an overhaul of the way bankers’ bonuses are awarded to help women gain greater representation within the industry.

The perception that men argue more forcefully in bonus negotiations -- and thus secure higher rewards -- can deter women from working in financial services, according to a report by the parliamentary panel that scrutinizes the Treasury. It called for performance-related payouts to be assessed against “clearly objective and formulaic” criteria, to help tackle the “alpha male” culture.

“There is a culture that puts women off, not going into firms but as they go through and progress in their careers,” Treasury Committee Chair Nicky Morgan said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Bonuses are one manifestation of that. Women don’t like to have to fight, to ask for money.”

Among the proposals, the group called for more senior men to “lead by example” on flexible working to reduce the stigma which can adversely affect women’s career progression, and for banks to encourage shared parental leave.

It also recommended the re-examination of recruitment and promotion policies to tackle unconscious bias and promoting the study of relevant subjects by girls to encourage them into the sector.

The report draws on new gender pay gap reporting requirements that show women at U.K. banks and building societies are paid 35 percent less per hour on a mean basis than their male colleagues, and receive bonuses that are on average 52 percent lower.

Quicktake: What We’ve Learned So Far About U.K.’s Gender Pay Gap

It said firms should be required to publish strategies for supporting the progression of women and added that the decision by some firms to exclude partners from their wage data is “outrageous.”

— With assistance by Francine Lacqua, and Kevin Costelloe

(Updates to add Nicky Morgan comment in third paragraph.)
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