UK government picks sole man in shortlist for top bank job

May 31, 2018 - 10:56 am
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LONDON (AP) — On a day that a U.K. government-backed review exposed companies' "pitiful" excuses for the lack of women in boardrooms, Britain's Treasury appointed the only man in a shortlist of five to a top job at the central bank.

In a statement Thursday, Treasury chief Philip Hammond said he was appointing Jonathan Haskell to the Bank of England's nine-person Monetary Policy Committee.

Haskell will replace Ian McCafferty from Sept. 1 for a three-year term. The appointment of Haskell, an economics professor, means the committee will still have eight men and only one woman.

The decision led to criticism of Hammond as the other four candidates on the shortlist were all women.

Rachel Reeves, an opposition Labour lawmaker who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, said in a tweet: "Are we really saying only one woman should be at the top table for these crucial decisions?"

The Treasury insisted the appointment was based on merit.

"We are committed to diversity and encouraging the broadest range of candidates," it said in a statement. "We actively contacted 44 women to apply for this role, 80 percent of those interviewed were women and the majority of those on the interview panel were women. The final appointment decision was based on merit."

The decision came as a government-backed review on gender balance in some of Britain's biggest companies revealed a list of excuses they used to explain why they did not appoint more women to their boards.

The government's business department released the list of excuses Thursday as part of its efforts to promote diversity. The excuses include that women "don't fit in" and "don't want the hassle" of top jobs. Another suggested that "shareholders just aren't interested in the makeup of the board, so why should we be?"

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths says it is "shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronizing excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from the top jobs."

Companies and individuals weren't named. The number of all-male FTSE 350 boards fell from 152 in 2011 to 10 last year.

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