Be brave! Come on guys: fighting sexism shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of women, says RUTH SUNDERLAND

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Written By Daily Mail

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  • Misogyny and discrimination against women embedded in work culture
  • Men who witness toxic behavior towards their female partners rarely question it
  • Decent men are not the problem, they should be part of the solution

Can going on maternity leave in 2024 really be more damaging to a woman’s career than allegations of sexual misconduct are to a man’s?

That was the view expressed by a financier in a Treasury Committee report on sexism in the city.

It might seem like a far-fetched claim, given the high-profile careers of ‘City Superwomen’ like Nicola Horlick and Helena Morrissey, who have had stellar careers and great generations of children.

But, like the women who gave evidence to MPs on the committee, I believe misogyny, discrimination and unconscious bias against women is deeply embedded in workplace culture in financial services and elsewhere.

The city’s superwomen exist, but they are largely the exception, and some of them admit it’s a facade.

Make a statement: Decent men are not the problem, they should be part of the solution

Make a statement: Decent men are not the problem, they should be part of the solution

Morrissey, a mother of nine, has said she regrets colluding with the myth that women can have it all, calling it a “pernicious illusion.” Even with a supportive husband, a nanny and plenty of money, none of which is within the reach of most women, she says she was distraught and exhausted.

While the women of the city make Sisyphean efforts to keep their jobs and families on track, some sleazy men cavort and harass merrily in the office.

For years they have gotten away with it. Recent highly publicized scandals may have made them more cautious, but rather than putting an end to misconduct, the committee believes the perpetrators have become shadier. Former BP boss Bernard Looney was stripped of £32m in rewards for “serious misconduct” when he misled his board about personal relationships with his colleagues.

Compare this to hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, who has faced several allegations about his behavior towards women for more than a decade. Odey is reported to have made almost £29m before being kicked out of his hedge fund.

His ex-wife, Nichola Pease, who initially supported him, was previously considered one of the “superwomen of the city”, but the shine of her once brilliant career has faded. In the summer she resigned from her position as president of the fund manager Júpiter for “personal reasons.”

Several women who testified before the Treasury Committee testified that the culture in their workplace is one in which men accused of sexual crimes are protected and women are abandoned.

Sexism in the city is a very broad term, covering everything from criminal assault to unequal pay and promotions. Regarding salaries, the committee concluded that women still rank second. This, he suggested, is because rewards in financial services are subject to a high degree of discretion and negotiation, along with a lack of transparency. In other words, women find it difficult to even know if they are underpaid, let alone protest.

It seems no coincidence that the investigation into Odey was led by a journalist from the Financial Times, which has an editor. However, this only works if powerful women use their platform, and most don’t. Amanda Blanc, head of insurance giant Aviva, is an honorable exception.

But the fight against sexism should not fall solely on women. For years, men have been urged to support their partners by taking on more responsibilities at home.

The Treasury report found that some male staff who witnessed toxic behavior towards their female colleagues supported it privately, but rarely questioned it at the time. Decent men are not the problem. They should be part of the solution.

So, as I probably shouldn’t say anymore: Man Up.



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