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UK News Lobby group picks BoE headhunter to find boss after sexism row

13:55  03 july  2020
13:55  03 july  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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The headhunter which was asked to identify female candidates to become the next Bank of England governor is to find a new chief for the City's most influential lobbying group amid a sexism row.

a group of people standing in front of a window: Canary Wharf is home to much of the UK's banking sector © Reuters Canary Wharf is home to much of the UK's banking sector

Sky News has learnt that Sapphire Partners, which has built a reputation for producing diverse shortlists for traditionally male-dominated boardroom roles, has been hired to recruit a new chief executive of UK Finance.

Sapphire's appointment comes just over a fortnight after Stephen Jones resigned from the role because of remarks he had made 12 years ago about Amanda Staveley, the prominent financier.

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City sources said that some directors of UK Finance, which represents Britain's banks, mortgage lenders and payment firms, were pushing for it to name a female successor to Mr Jones.

Among the possible candidates being touted for the job by bank executives is Charlotte Crosswell, the chief executive of Innovate Finance, a board member of UK Finance and a respected figure in the financial services industry.

a woman standing in a parking lot: Stephen Jones quit over historic remarks he made about Amanda Staveley © PA Stephen Jones quit over historic remarks he made about Amanda Staveley

Ms Crosswell is, however, on the nominations committee that will oversee the appointment, and so is not understood to be interested in the post.

Baroness Morgan, the former cabinet minister and former Treasury Select Committee chair, was named by some bankers as an "ideal target", along with Katharine Braddick, a senior Treasury official.

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The group say they had been unfairly blocked from serving on the club's committee, with one male member allegedly saying that women would never been on the board 'as long as he had a hole They say they were then treated with contempt and subjected to a campaign of harassment and sexism .

It was unclear on Friday whether either would have an interest in the job.

Sapphire's involvement reflected UK Finance directors' desire to ensure that female candidates were appropriately reflected on the shortlist, according to one insider.

The search for a new chief comes at an awkward time for the lobbying group, which has played a major part in the economic response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak has catapulted lenders into a pivotal role tasked with keeping credit flowing to millions of businesses - while also raising concerns about the reputational risks of trying to enforce those loans when repayments are due to commence next year.

Before his departure last month, Mr Jones helped to orchestrate - alongside the Treasury - the emergency financing schemes which have channelled tens of billions of pounds of state-guaranteed loans to struggling businesses.

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He resigned because of comments he made during telephone calls with then colleagues at Barclays during the 2008 banking crisis.

The issue of his remarks had resurfaced because transcripts of the calls could be read aloud in court in the coming weeks as part of a case brought by Ms Staveley against the British lender.

Mr Jones had already written to UK Finance staff to apologise for the "wrong" and "inappropriate" comments.

Ms Staveley alleges that Barclays deceived her over the substantially higher fees it separately paid to Qatari investors which helped bail out the bank and keep it out of the clutches of the government.

The trial, which began last month, continues, and Barclays denies any wrongdoing.

One ally of Mr Jones said he had been determined not to allow the sexism row to overshadow UK Finance's work on gender and other forms of diversity during a period when they have become politically explosive issues.

During his three years at UK Finance, he had been heavily involved in a Treasury-sponsored initiative to improve diversity across the financial services sector.

Other board members are said, however, to have felt that Mr Jones would not be able to effectively carry out his efforts to reform the reputation of an industry that was hugely damaged by the behaviour of many of its employees during and after the banking crash of 2008.

UK Finance is, nevertheless, one of the few City organisations which has equal gender representation both on its board and in its broader workforce.

A spokeswoman for UK Finance declined to comment on Friday.

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