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55pc of female asset managers suffer sexism

55pc of female asset managers suffer sexism
A new study by the Financial Times has shown that more than half of female asset managers have suffered sexual harassment in their offices.

While there had been a notion in the City that asset management was a "softer" financial service that had largely escaped more misogynistic practices that are often said to be endemic in investment banking, the Financial Times argues this is not the case.

A survey of 340 global fund managers found 55 per cent of females have been on the receiving end of "inappropriate" office behaviour, while more than a third have been exposed to daily sexist conduct.

So serious is the problem, one respondent to the study commented that she knew several women who had left the fund management industry as a direct result of gender discrimination and harassment.

One of the participants surveyed said: "I was sexually harassed on countless occasions. It ranged from comments about my appearance [and] breasts to [salesmen] calling me and asking if I was wearing knickers.

"I left the industry when my boss sexually harassed me on an overseas work trip, threatening to end my career and ruin my reputation if I didn't do what he wanted."

Mark McCombe, Asia-Pacific region chairman of BlackRock, which is the world's largest asset management firm, called the survey a "wake-up call" and described the "rugby-team" mentality in the industry as dominant.

Earlier this month a city broker, Isabel Sitz, won a substantial compensation settlement from Oppenheimer Europe, her employer, after it emerged she was the victim of gender discrimination.

The 42-year-old Spaniard alleges she was stripped of her best clients because her boss preferred to give them to male colleagues he could bond with over drinking sessions, rugby and hunting.

When her results fell because of poor performance resulting from her lack of big clients, her pay was dropped from £95,000 per year to the minimum wage of £6.08 per hour.

Oppenheimer Europe disputes Ms Sitz's claims and has said it may appeal.

By Chris Stevenson