Posts Tagged ‘gay’

MPs urge City boards to close gender gap

April 3, 2010

» MPs urge City boards to close gender gap

A report by the Treasury select committee finds “disappointingly few” women on City of London boards and evidence of a “significant” pay gap that is wider than elsewhere in the business world.

“The pay gap exists at entry level,” said John McFall, chairman of the committee, which will monitor the situation during the next parliament.

It’s a worrying situation. The idea of banks being full of alpha males who are casually bigoted is a widespread one, as is the idea that the hunger to win, the appetite for risk and bigotry are uniquely male traits. Harriet Harman’s comments that Lehman Brothers would not have failed had it not been Lehman Sisters is a classic example of reverse sexism based upon false information – shortly before its failure, Lehman’s CFO was a woman, Erin Callan*.

There certainly are financial firms which are still in the dark ages (as there are for any industry), but most banks are on the extreme end of the PC scale and obsessed with the idea of “talent” – their entire view on how they pay is that they are looking to hire the best of the best. The idea that a male graduate employee and a female graduate employee will be paid different things sounds wrong (not to say illegal), so something is going on within these statistics.

Banks, though, do not lend themselves to flexibility. However much they try, they are a slave to the financial markets which have fixed opening hours of 8am to 4.30pm. If traders need to do additional work they can either hope for a quiet market, or do it from 6am to 5.30pm. Not everyone is a trader, not everyone has the same restrictions (I don’t), but the hours of the market drive many other considerations and the more senior people get, they more restrictive those market hours become.

One should always be wary of an industry trying to defend itself against charges of prejudice by claiming special status. On the other hand, neat but untrue stereotypes are something else to be wary of, particularly when used as a basis for policy.

* To be fair to Erin, she wasn’t in the job very long and probably not long enough to make a difference.

Former BP boss Lord Browne admits sexuality fears

February 8, 2010

» Former BP boss Lord Browne admits sexuality fears

Lord Browne did not reveal that he was gay until the end of his 40-year career at the oil giant.

A correction: he was forced to admit it when he was allegedly blackmailed about it, and then committed perjury.

Lord Browne said there was “a fear that was engendered in people’s hearts about being gay”.

“In corporate life it wasn’t something you talked about, and in the oil industry is was not something you did,” he said.

I do. But there again, I’m not running a FTSE-100 company and he was so perhaps I should focus on acting macho. Hmmm, whining for most of the afternoon that a good man is hard to find was not, perhaps, the best way to start my new straight image.

Death by tutu

January 8, 2010

“It’s a very masculine world.” People say this to me when they learn that I’m gay and I work in an investment bank. There are a number of ways to be insulted by this:

  1. I may be gay but I’m still a man, I don’t flounce into work in floral prints and tutus (except, of course, on casual day when the tutu is virtually a uniform);
  2. last time I checked, the rest of the world was not a Utopia of mutual respect and gay rights, so I don’t think investment banking is any better or worse than most industries;
  3. since when did you base your opinion of a particularly industry on what you saw on television;
  4. masculine does not mean intolerent.

We have a gay network. It remains a gay network despite my determined attempts to turn it into a mafia, awarding promotions and favours to its most deserving members (i.e. me). This plan is hindered by a few pertinent facts:

  • None of the network/mafia are very important, so their ability to award favours – outside of a charming interior design advice – is very limited;
  • We are the worst gay stereotype and enormously bitchy (I can’t see any gay mafia lasting longer than a few days before an internal battle breaks out, marked by a vicious wave of assassinations, car-bombings and double-crossings, sparked by a suspected sleight over shoes);
  • The firm generally disapproves of a network called a mafia.

The chip-on-shoulder attitude of my fellow network members would be more understandable if they went through some genuine hardship. It’s not that the bank is remarkable forward looking – although it does seem to take the whole “people are our most important asset” thing a lot more seriously than it needs to – it’s just it doesn’t care. Or it does care: about the money.

I find it amazing to think of anyone as saying “don’t give that work to Ninja, he’s a shirt-lifter” because it’s missing the point: where’s the money? We all know how much banks care for money.

And that’s how I thought it was everywhere, except on a recent event run by a financial company (a consultancy) about general gayness (that was not the title, I hasten to add) they were remarkable frank about the whole “he’s a shirt-lifter so let’s not promote him” issue. These things make me angry, not because I’m a fierce defender of equality or my cause (is it really my cause?) but because there’s few things more annoying than genuine stupidity when it slaps you in the face.

“I was thinking about this project to maximise our revenue. Who do you think should run it?”
“It’s a tough call Mr Senior Director, but I have a suggestion.”
“Yes?”
“I was thinking of lowering our revenue, damaging our brand and product, putting the project at risk and making our management practices look questionable to our investors and clients.”
“You’re really selling it Mr Similarly Senior Director, what do we have to do?”
“Well the current plan is to give the project to Smith.”
“The one who wears the tutu?”
“That’s him. He’s a safe pair of hands, really knows his stuff and will deliver the project on time, under-budget and will maximise our bang-for-buck.”
“What do you suggest?”
“I was thinking of giving it to Jones.”
“Ah yes, the idiot responsible for Project Secret.”
“Yes, that’s the chap. You see, Smith is a shirt-lifter and I thought I’d let my own prejudices lead to spiralling costs and lack of delivery.”
“Good call, Mr Similarly Senior Director, let’s do it! We can’t have poofs maximising our profits.”
“I agree Mr Senior Director.” [Pause] “Was that a double entendre?”
“No.”
“Still disgusting though.”

The gay mafia do not agree (which is hardly surprising, as cordial agreement is not something which characterises our views). Perhaps it’s not the same in all organisations, or even in all parts of this organisation, but however hard-earned that chip-on-the-shoulder and Princess Diana eyeliner, they do not advance the cause. But then you can’t trust them with any work: they’re all a bunch of poofs.