The equalities commission said it was “disappointed but not surprised” by a lack of female promotions at Barclays Capital (BarCap), the investment banking division of Barclays.
It follows an advertisement by Barclays in the Financial Times, which revealed that out of 80 promotions to managing director level, only five were women. The roles for the unit, which specialised in the corporate credit markets, include public relations executives and bankers in London, New York and Singapore.
A spokeswoman for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) told The Times: “It’s not a simple question of discrimination – it’s also about working practices.”
But a BarCap spokeswoman defended the promotions. She told The Times the promotions were totally irrelevant of gender. “We are a meritocracy. In our diversity policy we would hope to promote irrespective of any gender bias,” she said.
“We would always look for the best person for the job. We want to provide an environment where people feel comfortable irrespective of their background, gender, sexuality or race.”
Glenda Stone, chief executive of women’s network Aurora, argued more than two years ago the City environment is hugely demanding and often leaves little time for outside commitments, which can put women at a disadvantage.
“We know that women generally carry greater home and family responsibilities. For these reasons, fewer women enter and remain in the sector and this results in more patriarchal cultures and styles becoming the norm,” she told Personnel Today.
A 2007 Equal Opportunities Commission (now part of the EHRC) report, Sex and Power: Who Runs Britain? 2007, said only 10% of directors of the UK’s FTSE 100 firms are women.