Sexism in the City of London Voting System Revealed

Sexism in the City of London as Men Rule in Elections

Some companies are flouting rules that say the employees they choose to vote in City of London elections should reflect the makeup of their workforces.

In the elections last week, Prudential Plc (PRU) sent only men to the polls to represent the insurer’s head-office employees, 48 percent of whom are women, according to the electoral register. At Deloitte LLP, women are 40 percent of its City of London payroll and 13 percent of the accounting firm’s voters. At CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, a law firm, the ratio is 56 percent to 17 percent.

Pedestrians pass commuters waiting at a bus stop outside the Bank of England (BOE) in London. Men end up with more corporate votes than women simply because more men work in the City, particularly in senior positions, said Mark Boleat, chairman of the City’s policy and resources committee. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Lawyer Says Gender Bias in City Vote Is Illegal

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March 25 (Bloomberg) — Election lawyer Ros Baston discusses gender bias in the City of London vote to elect council members to govern Europe’s largest financial district. She spoke March 19 in London with Bloomberg’s Simon Clark. (Source: Bloomberg)

City of London Seen to Need More Women Executives

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March 25 (Bloomberg) — Fiona Woolf, a City of London alderman and a lawyer at CMS Cameron McKenna, discusses the need for companies to appoint more women executives. She spoke Feb. 13 in London with Bloomberg’s Simon Clark. (Source: Bloomberg)

Men are 63 percent of all employees in the City, according to statistics on the City of London Corporation’s website, while the electoral register shows that men are 73 percent of those voting on behalf of businesses. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The City is in many ways a relic, its boundaries about the same as those of Londinium, established by the Romans on the bank of the River Thames. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Businesses have had the vote for centuries in the City of London, the oldest of the U.K. capital’s 33 municipalities.

The gender imbalance in the corporate electorate comes amid criticism that companies unfairly give votes to senior employees, rather than a representative sample from throughout their workforce. Complaints about the way the City operates have mounted since the financial crisis, because its government serves as the main lobbying group for the industry many Britons blame for the country’s economic slump.

“The City voting system needs to be fixed,” said David Pitt-Watson, former chairman of Hermes Focus Asset Management and a co-founder of the City Reform Group, a seven-month-old nonprofit campaigning for more transparency and accountability. “Nobody has taken seriously how you get the diversity among the voters that is required.”

‘Reasonably Practicable’

 

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