City HR departments need more stringent pay reviews and clearer performance
targets to create greater equality and halt the growth in discrimination
claims, warn experts.
Discrimination claims were thrown into the limelight again earlier this
month when a former senior executive from Merrill Lynch began proceedings
against the company for a record £7.8m claim for gender bias.
Speaking at a roundtable event last week, Caroline Slocock, chief executive
of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said the UK finance sector must face the
fact that it has the widest gender pay gap of any industrial sector.
"[It’s] a situation that needs to be tackled urgently," she said.
"When a company loses an equal pay case it loses more than its reputation
as a fair employer – doubt is also cast on its ability to manage its business
Ros McIntyre of Vivid Change Partnership, said: "Employers need to be
clear about what performance they want so they can distinguish between
employees who are being subjected to discrimination, and those who are simply
failing to perform."
Vic Daniels, director at HR consultancy DBM, said more detailed and
transparent performance criteria were needed. "HR professionals need more
formalised guidelines, stringent recording and policies specific to equal
opportunities," he said.
A second woman – Elizabeth Weston – is suing Merrill Lynch for sex
discrimination, victimisation and constructive dismissal, it was reported last