This is not a new news story, but it is a news story. Banking is a man's world.
Sounds a bit sexist doesn't it, but many of us would say that there is still active discrimination in some business sectors on the grounds of age, sex, ethnicity, religion and physical attributes. Maybe it's human nature, which is why governments spend fortunes to introduce laws to stop bullying … sorry … discrimination of this nature.
What's the relevance of this to banks?
Well, banks seem to be the most culpable of sex discrimination. Almost every day there appears to be a news story about some group suing some bank over some sexist act. Here's a few illustrations:
- Working mother sues BNP Paribas for sex discrimination, April 2007
- HBOS £11m sex discrimination and bullying claims withdrawn, December 2006
- Dresdner sued for $1.4bn in sex discrimination case, January 2006
- Female banker's £1m sex discrimination case costs against Merrill Lynch, April 2005
And there's many more. In fact, when you put "bank sex discrimination" as a search term into google, you get over 2.1 million hits.
The subject has become so common as a headline-hugger that the BBC, on the back of a huge sexual discrimination claim worth more than $1bn, make TV dramas about the situation to entertain, absorb and even shock us.
And there is always the other side of the equation as, when you find payouts of over £15 million, maybe it's worth suing the bank over sex discrimination.
So where's the news story?
Well, it's the news this morning that HSBC have been accused of homophobia in the treatment of one of their staff, Peter Lewis, who was openly gay.
Maybe we will now find many more such cases of this ilk coming to light, and bank's sexist and homphobic attitudes from an era more suited to Life on Mars will be seen as what it is: out-of-date.
Or maybe not as banks, especially the dealing room, are still known for aggression and such aggression may continue to keep women and other groups out of the trading room.
I guess that's why you may start finding many bank head offices and dealing rooms moving out into the countryside, where men are men and sheep are frightened. After all, sheep don't have lawyers.