Addleshaw Goddard

UK 200 2013 position: 23

Sex discrimination and financial services: all is forgiven?

Madarassey, Mezzoterro, Villalba: there was a time when the papers were full of reports of women with six-figure salaries taking on their employers in tribunal. Whether they won or lost, their claims painted a depressing picture of life for women working in financial services. From enduring sexist remarks to being despatched on the return from maternity leave, their claims suggested that women could progress only so far, putting up with the banter for a time until they found themselves side-lined, deprived of lucrative accounts and lined up for the next downsizing exercise.

Ten years since the Mezzoterro case, it looks like matters may have improved. All the banks have a raft of well-publicised diversity initiatives, including flexible working policies, enhanced maternity leave, women’s networks, women’s champions and programmes to encourage women to return to work after a career break. These developments run in parallel with a wider European-driven focus on promoting women to senior positions and addressing the gender pay gap.

Sex discrimination claims are also declining. There were 26,900 sex discrimination complaints in 2007–08 compared with only 18,818 in 2012–13. These numbers have dropped even further since the introduction of tribunal fees with 6,310 cases from April to June 2013, 5310 from July to September 2013 and only 980 cases from October to December 2013…

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