Jobs for the Boys? Look out, the Women Are Fighting Back Why Girls Are Fighting Jobs - and Big Bonuses - for the Boys ; Anaysis: Sexism in the City: Sex Discrimination Claims Worth Millions Have Helped Expose a Deep-Rooted Laddish Culture in Some of Britain's Plushest Boardrooms
Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
TO HAVE served your company loyally for 11 years only to discover that your bosses are secretly paying a junior colleague pounds 700,000 more in bonuses must be galling. Particularly so if you were responsible for recruiting him and then training him in the black arts of the City analyst.
For Louise Barton it is not only galling, it is also the basis for her claim of sex discrimination, which could win her up to pounds 1m in compensation.
Yesterday an employment tribunal was told Ms Barton was bringing in as much or more revenue than her colleagues for the fund managers Investec Henderson Cros-thwaite, where she was recognised as a leader in her field.
Last week Julie Bower, another top-flight female executive, was paid pounds 1.4m after her employer, Schroder Securities, agreed to drop its appeal against an earlier employment tribunal ruling. Ms Bower, 35, claimed she had been driven out of her firm by being given an "insultingly" low bonus of pounds 25,000 - about 4 per cent of what male colleagues received - and told she was the company's worst team leader.
She was fighting ovarian cancer at the time and her boss's assessment of her was summarised thus: "Had cancer, been a pain, now pregnant."
Sex discrimination claims in the City are booming. Claims have trebled in the past two years while payouts run to many millions of pounds, dwarfing the official figures for compensation awarded by the courts. At first glance it is tempting to link these record claims to a growth in laddish behaviour in the City. And in the past few months there has been no shortage of publicised instances of sexist e-mails and inappropriate corporate enter- tainment at lap dancing clubs.
Gillian Howard, a leading sex discrimination lawyer, believes overt sexism is alive and well in the City and those women who don't learn to deal with it will find themselves out of a job. "It's still a huge problem," she said, "with an awful lot of men who aren't just insensitive to women but insensitive to everyone.
"They make disgusting remarks to each other, down-load disgusting pornography and then e-mail filthy messages around the office."
Ms Howard argues that despite this "sexist and macho" environment employers are careful not to express their reasons for underpaying women or failing to promote them. She said: "They think that a woman who is having a family can't possibly be suitable for the long- hours culture of the City. But you will rarely see any of this written down or said."
Dame Judith Mayhew is chairman of the Corporation of London's policy and resources committee and City and business adviser to Ken Livingstone. She believes the growth in sex discrimination claims reflects an awareness among women of their rights and strong position in the workplace. "They are no longer prepared to accept discrim- ination," she says. "Where everything else is equal, and their pay and working conditions are not, they can see where they might have a case."
She says that more women are now in very senior jobs in the City and some recent high-profile cases have become trail-blazers for sex discrimination litigation.
Kay Swinburne was awarded pounds 500,000 in October 2000. She was forced to quit her pounds 300,000-a-year job in the City after complaining about escort girls being hired for company parties and after being accused by her boss of sleeping with a client. And Aisling Sykes, who routinely worked 14- hour days for the US investment bank JP Morgan, received a big settlement after claiming she was sacked during her fourth pregnancy for wanting to spend a few hours with her children. …
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Publication information: Article title: Jobs for the Boys? Look out, the Women Are Fighting Back Why Girls Are Fighting Jobs - and Big Bonuses - for the Boys ; Anaysis: Sexism in the City: Sex Discrimination Claims Worth Millions Have Helped Expose a Deep-Rooted Laddish Culture in Some of Britain's Plushest Boardrooms. Contributors: Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 26, 2002. Page number: 11. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.