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.
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.”
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