Chancellor facing new pressure over lack of women working at the Bank of England
The Chancellor is facing fresh pressure over the lack of women in senior roles at the Bank of England. Nicky Morgan MP, who chairs the Treasury Select Committee, has expressed her “disappointment” to Treasury head Sir Tom Scholar.
In a letter, she said she was “increasingly concerned” after two men were appointed to senior roles. The positions were on the Bank’s Court, its governing board, and the interest rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee.
Both appointments were officially recommended by Chancellor Philip Hammond and the process was overseen by the Treasury.
In a separate letter to the governor of the Bank of England, Ms Morgan said diversity in senior management roles at the Bank had actually fallen last year.
In all, 29% of the Bank’s senior management are women.
The TSC said it had approved the appointments of Prof Jonathan Haskel to the MPC and Bradley Fried to the Court, but wanted to see the diversity of candidates improve.
In her letter to Sir Tom, the Permanent Secretary, Ms Morgan said there was only one female member of both the MPC, which has nine members, and the Financial Policy Committee, which has 13 members and oversees financial stability in the banking and insurance sector.
“The Committee is increasingly concerned about diversity in public appointments, particularly those at the most senior levels at the Bank of England,” the letter says.
Prof Julia Black and Jill May have recently been appointed to the Prudential Regulation Committee – the third key Bank body, which supervises banks and building societies – which will take the number of women on the 12-strong committee to three by the end of the year.
The Court and the three regulatory committees have one non-white member.
In her letter to Mark Carney, Ms Morgan says “it seems increasingly unlikely that the Bank of England will meet its own diversity target to have 35% female participation in senior management positions by 2020”.
The criticism comes two months after Ben Broadbent, one of the four male deputy governors at the Bank, apologised after describing the sluggish performance of the UK’s economy as “menopausal”.
The Bank has also faced scrutiny after it revealed that its gender pay gap was 24%, meaning women employees earned on average 24% less than male employees in 2017.
“Whilst the Committee has approved the appointments of Prof Haskel and Mr Fried, it’s disappointing that the gender balance at the most senior levels of the Bank of England will not be improved,” Ms Morgan said.
“The Committee raised concerns about the Bank’s gender diversity following the appointment of Sir Dave Ramsden and Prof Silvana Tenreyro in October 2017.
“Since October, only three out of 10 public appointments and reappointments to the Bank’s committees have been women.”
Ms Morgan said the TSC was prepared to take diversity issues into account when it is asked to approve appointments in the future.
The process to appoint the next governor of the Bank is expected to start shortly, and there will be close scrutiny of the candidate list.
Mr Carney will leave his position in the summer of next year.
Both the Bank and the Treasury say they are focused on increased diversity at the top of the Bank.
The Treasury set up the Women in Finance review under the Virgin Money chief executive, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, to look at promoting more diverse talent.
At the Bank, the number of women in senior positions has increased from 17% in 2013 when Mr Carney became governor, to 29% now.
The slight drop last year is likely to be reversed after a series of recent appointments of senior women.
The number of black, Asian or other minority ethnic staff in senior management has also increased, from 13% in 2013 to 18% this year.
“We are committed to diversity and encouraging the broadest range of candidates,” a Treasury spokesperson said.
“That is why 71% of recent new appointments to the Bank have been women.
“There is more to do and we are working with the public and private sectors to ensure that we are attracting a diverse range of candidates.”