Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 18:23 UK

'Women would have curbed crisis'

Woman walkinmg past FTSE board
Would a woman's touch have lessened the current crisis?

The financial crisis would not have been as severe had there been more women in top City jobs, MPs have heard.

Investment banker Ros Altmann also warned MPs that current measures used to recruit executives need overhauling to ensure more women land senior posts.

A more cautious approach, rather than an "alpha male" one, would also be beneficial, Professor Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics said.

MPs are currently examining the role of women in the City.

Professor Goodhart added: "There would have been less likelihood of the financial crisis if we had a larger number of female executives in the financial sector."

He explained that the more cautious and long-term outlook of women could prove to be a more positive trait than the more aggressive risk-taking stance of men.

Culture shift

However, the Treasury Committee, led by John McFall, was also warned that short-term steps to improve the ratio of women to men in the City would not be painless.

"I think if we try to correct this from the very top... it may be something that's highly visible but it won't fix the problem as there are very few women who are... experienced enough to reach boards," said Dr Daniel Ferreira, also of the LSE.

Recruiters could do a number of things to help themselves and businesses
Claire Dobie, City Women's Network

But the committee - which has only one female member - also heard that the financial sector needs a culture shift to lure more women into senior posts.

Kat Banyard, of the Fawcett Society, the UK's leading campaigning organisation for women's rights, said that the increase of the sex industry had impacted on workplace culture.

"There is evidence that shows there is more frequent use of lap dancing clubs and prostitution being used to get deals. If we are going to get more women into those institutions, we have to change the culture," Ms Banyard said.


Other measures suggested for boosting the number of women included gender quotas for boards - similar to the Norwegian requirement that women must make up 40% of a company board.

Further recommendations included mandatory pay audits to ensure there is transparency about wages and a shift in the mindset of the people recruiting to more senior posts.

"Recruiters could do a number of things to help themselves and businesses," Clare Dobie, of the City Women's Network told the committee.

"It's often said that supply is a problem but we think it's a demand problem."

She added that while there are 1,800 women on the boards of FTSE 250 companies, all of whom are eligible for FTSE 100 companies, none had been contacted about a similar position in a blue-chip firm.

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