herald

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Sinead Ryan: Sexism in financial services? No surprise to me, I spent 15 years there

AH yes, good to see the old financial services industry hasn't changed a bit. Still the same old testosterone swaggering about the place while the 'wimmin' are providing the decoration.

The revelation that PwC has found itself with a sexually transmitted viral within its hallowed walls at least gives me the reassurance that nothing much changes over the years.

Horrible

Boys will be boys. But what horrible ones they still are! Fifteen years of serving my time there told me all I needed to know.

Rating the new 'intake' of girlies to the office is a fairly innocuous if slightly smutty exercise carried on in buildings overflowing with too many men (as the money business is -- and look where that's got us, by the way).

The nudges in the canteen, the Friday after-work drinks in the pub -- you can be sure the wink-wink nudge-nudge culture has always been there. Getting 'hit on' is the easiest thing in the world, but not always in a good way.

The financial services industry is rife with arrogant, conceited, brash young men -- if they're going to be selling intangible products, they have to be.

It's the ultimate bastion of male culture and although in very many cases in my experience, women make the more diligent workers, and the more careful salespeople, the blokes are the most self-satisfied and smug.

I went to see The Social Network this week -- the deeply unpleasant Mark Zuckerberg set up Facebook on the basis of 'rating' the new Harvard women intake, and that's only a few years old. So, it just goes to show that some things never change.

So the PwC bright boys decided in the spirit of adventure to emulate the zillionaire and shared a top-10 list of their own, using 13 women colleagues. Now, you see, right there, if they can't count up that simple number, would you really want them auditing your company accounts?

The 13 unfortunate women who have become viral hits in a far more effective way that Bill Cullen's Apprentices could manage from this week's programme, will get over the shame.

Sharp

They are highly trained, bright and sharp graduates making their way in accountancy. They're not going to let some brainless silly act like this ruin all the hard work they've put in over the years.

Good for them.

The 17 men who shared the vicious email, complete with their big, clever 'ratings' system and derogatory language will, however, never recover from being stupid. In fact, they'll probably argue that the plank who forwarded it out of the office was to blame.

Or one of the women, who spotted it.

Or the politically correct 'culture' which doesn't allow boys to be boys.

Dream on, lads.

This was a dim-witted exercise from the word go, but, unfortunately, you're working in an industry where it's all part of the mutual back-slapping that goes on between the boys.

But you only have to look at the arrogance of our banks and their overwhelmingly male-dominated boards to know that it'll never really go away.

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