Banking: sexist or just brutal?

Jan 26 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Why are investment banks so vulnerable to writs from women who claim the have been unfairly treated? According to Matthew Lynn writing in The Business, it is largely because "a brutalised, discriminatory working culture is part of what makes investment banking so profitable."

In some cases it turns out that what the banks are really being sued for is not discrimination, but for treating staff with a callous indifference that borders on the brutal.

None of that will come as any great surprise to anyone familiar with how the City works. Lots of places aren't much fun to work in. Plenty of male bosses are stupid, vain, egotistical and rude.

But my proposition is that the City is uniquely nasty. Indeed, in one case a judge posed the question as to why the City had to be so much more unpleasant than the Civil Service, the professions, or indeed a factory floor. There are three reasons for this. First, the stakes are much higher. Because City jobs pay more than most professions, they attract the most hyper-competitive, aggressive and ambitious individuals. If you put all those aggressive genes in the same room, then stand back and tell them to slug it out for a limited bonus pool, the results are not going to be pretty.

The Business | Is the City awash with sexism or is it just brutal?