By Eva Keogan
By Luuk Jacobs
By Jonathan Max
By Luuk Jacobs
By Andy Milner
By Eva Keogan
We all want to love our jobs but what if the environment you are working in doesn't love you back? That's something many women are facing daily. Sexism is such an old fashioned concept and it’s really time for it to go, but it still exists. How can firms stamp it out when it seems to be ubiquitous?
You may have spotted the headlines recently about the Lean In survey which found 60% of male managers are ‘uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socialising together’.
The choice of wording used is a bad start as it immediately puts the man in the role of the victim, with him being the one made to feel ‘uncomfortable’. And the study finds even worse thinking.
Apparently, senior male professionals are less likely to fraternise with junior females than they are with junior males. This is underpinned by these startling statistics:
Men are 12x more likely to hesitate to have 1-on-1 meetings with women Men are 9x more likely to hesitate to travel together for work with women Men are 6x more likely to hesitate to have work dinners with women
And to top it off, 36% of men say they’ve avoided mentoring or socialising with a woman because they were nervous about how it would look.
If we look at these figures from the other side it becomes even more alarming – women are 12x less likely to get a meeting with a senior manager. Women are 9x less likely to get go on business trips. Women are 6x less like to be invited to work dinners.
Yet this doesn't seem to be a case of fixing one problem and causing another, as 57% of women still report that they’ve experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.
So what exactly is going on here? It's surely enough to put many women off working in a corporate environment altogether.
Data and Facts
While it’s always difficult to apply generic survey data to a particular industry – especially when it’s a sample size of 2000 and generated in the US – there’s no denying that these issues are global, and that sexism and sexual harassment are still rife in the City of London.
In 2017, the FTfm Women in Asset Management Survey found 70% of women have been the subject of sexism. That’s pretty depressing.
It’s really important for everyone to enjoy work – we work longer hours in the UK than our European counterparts and the City is no exception. But while on the one hand we have diversity drives, returnships and Gender Pay Gap reporting designed to give women and other groups support and reassurance through legislation and behaviour change campaigns, recent stories coming out of the City at large show types of misconduct such as sexism, exploitation and at the very least crass jokes, are by no means going away any time soon.
The Toxic City?
News stories around sexism in the City aren't positive at the moment - here are just some which have made the news:
James Conmy and his ‘glazed ring’ comment ended up with him being fired. The Bloomberg exposé The Old Daytime-Drinking, Sexual-Harassing Ways Are Thriving at Lloyd’s which contributed to the banning of alcohol. Coutts is facing a significant pay out to a female employee of its ‘unspoken culture of sexism’. In February 2019, the FCA met Nathalie Abildgaard, a former employee of IFM Investors, an Australian investment manager with an office on Gresham Street, to discuss her claim that a senior manager sexually harassed her on a work trip – she has settled out of court this April for a six figure sum.
With all of this on the table it’s quite easy to lose faith in change at all but we just can’t give up and go home if we want to see change.
Who is responsible?
Organisations themselves are responsible for their own culture but they need more than a gentle nudge. Campaigns such as Women in Finance are pushing for the numbers of women in the industry to increase.
The Investment Association also has a role to play. It currently campaigns around Diversity & Inclusion as well and while it has written to FTSE 350 companies about diversity it has not been so vocal about sexism in the industry itself – but is this something it should champion or should it tackle broader issues? The Diversity Project, the campaign set up to promote Diversity & Inclusion in the industry has a broad remit across the diversity spectrum and is a force for good overall but holds no power to enforce rules or regulation.
All the above are working towards change but it is only when there is jeopardy, or high stakes, we will see any kind of radical reform or progress.
Calling out to the FCA
When it comes to any kind of enforcement, the FCA is the only organisation with real teeth and it has stated over the last few months sexual harassment falls within its remit, so perhaps we will start to see some tangible movement on the issue.
Speaking at City and Financial's Women in Finance Summit 2019 this month, Nausicaa Delfas, executive director of international at the FCA, pointed to an increase in non-financial misconduct as a threat to the sector's diversity.
"This type of serious misbehaviour is toxic to a working environment and can lead to bad outcomes for customers, staff, stakeholders and the firm. In our view, tolerance of this sort of misconduct would be a clear example of a driver of unhealthy culture. This area clearly requires management attention and a broader change in the firms’ mindset."
Will this effect change?
First and foremost, we’ve seen little change in the Gender Pay Gap reporting figures so should women expect much else to change? Yes of course women should.
According to Wealth Manager ‘The FCA has said firms need to demonstrate good practice in purpose, leadership, rewarding and managing people, and governance arrangements.'
With SMCR coming into play in December 2019, company culture is being given increasing importance in the Investment Management sector, and the risk of high profile fines for senior management and directors from the regulator may encourage organisations to stamp out any form of misconduct – sexual or otherwise – more quickly than before.
Let’s hope 2020 sees a step change in stamping out sexism and misconduct for once and for all and we can all enjoy our jobs, regardless of gender or identity.
By Luuk Jacobs
I remember growing up in a small city in the south of the Netherlands. Despite the international reputation of the Netherlands being open, diverse and a melting pot of cultures, my growing up was very much defined by white, Caucasian and countryside culture. Any other cultural aspects of life would come via the TV set with either Dutch programmes or majority soaps from the US or UK. All in all, you can hardly call this cultural diversity.
It started to change when at 18 I went to university, although even that remained very much in the same setting but clearly diversity of thought started to be formed and the background of fellow students was very different from when I grew up. I was in the end the 1st in my family to go to university.
The real significant step towards more cultural diversity came when one day a friend asked me to join for an introduction to AIESEC, a student organisation that was brokering traineeships abroad. By the end of the afternoon I had signed up and a week later filled out all the forms. Suddenly the realisation that I would go for 6 months to live in a country that would be English or German speaking; these were the language I had been exposed to in my study, I would definitely not say that I mastered them. What would this bring me, how would I adjust myself, my life that concentrated around family, sports and study would be turned upside down.
Then the letter came (yes sorry no emails yet in those times) that I was matched to a traineeship in Freiburg in Germany. So, I better upgrade my language skills to survive.
Many years later I know that this change in my life opened a door to me to be exposed to a multi-cultural diversity that I cherish today. I spent the 6 months traineeship in Germany, learned to speak the language fluently (drop me in the sea and I will swim), I got to know many new people that remain friends till today. I however also discovered the love of travelling and meeting new people, speak to them, getting to know new countries and their cultures and most importantly understanding cultural diversity and the beauty of it.
I am very fortunate having built up friendships with literally people from all over the world. We might not see each other every year but luckily social media enables us to stay “in touch” and see what we are all up to. It all culminated in my big wedding day with friends from over 20 countries being present.
Equally important it has given me great skills in my professional environment, listen to others, understanding their cultural diversity, tapping into it and making it an extra value in the solution we create for our client.
Without having stepped out of my comfort zone in my early 20’s and embracing the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, has, I like to believe, made me the person I am and has enriched my life with the cultural diversity I enjoy every day.
Almost needless to say, the moral of this story is to go out there and discover the beauty of cultural diversity than can be as well just around you (especially in London) or in the many corners of this world.
By Eva Keogan
Direct quote from Investment Week: The number of firms in the UK reporting their Gender Pay Gap (GPG) figures by the deadline has fallen by more than a thousand, amid claims firms have restructured businesses or transferred staff to avoid being obliged to report, or have ditched reporting altogether under the perception they will not face repercussions.
Is anyone working for a company which has done this? Is it time to name and shame as has been threatened before? Your thoughts are welcome.
This is quite worrying to read and it's not just Investment Week which has reported on this but to down size companies so they are below the 250-person threshold for reporting is incredibly cynical. Has anyone found evidence of this? Also, using Brexit as a smokescreen is not going to wash next year.
Gender pay gap reporting falls as asset managers unveil mixed results
WWW.INVESTMENTWEEK.CO.UK More than 1,000 fewer firms reveal figures