Next Bank of England chief does not need to be a woman, says equality champion

Jayne-Anne Gadhia has said a more diverse City leadership would have helped during the financial crisis, but she stopped short of recommending a woman be installed as the next Bank of England governor.

The Virgin Money chief executive said the shortlist for Mark Carney’s replacement should be evenly split between men and women, with each candidate assessed on their merits alone.

“I think that the shortlist should be equal, there should be two or three men and two or three women… and everyone should then be judged according to their capability and ability to do the job in the best interest of the country,” she told the Press Association.

“So yes, of course, I back a balanced list but I don’t believe in positive discrimination, I believe in discriminating to find the best possible person.”

However, the gender equality champion did not put her full support in the idea that a woman should be chosen for the post in order to boost diversity at the central bank.

“What I’m fighting for is that the capability, skill and trustworthiness etc of men and women is measured equally so that each gets an equal opportunity to get jobs big and small.

“So I don’t think it’s necessary that the next Bank of England governor is a woman. I think it’s very necessary that men and women have an equal opportunity to go for the job and the best person gets it, male or female.”

The Treasury has come under fire in recent months for failing to appoint enough women to the Bank of England’s senior ranks, despite having drawn up a female-dominated shortlist for one of the newer members of the interest-rate setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

There is only one woman on the Bank’s nine-strong MPC – Silvana Tenreyro.

Silvana Tenreyro
Silvana Tenreyro

But Mrs Gadhia said more diversity in City boardrooms – including at her former employer Royal Bank of Scotland – could have made a difference in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis.

“Of course more women would have helped but so would more diversity in every respect.”

She added: “It’s much more to do with diversity of thought, diversity of background – particularly social background is really important, ethnicity, sexuality.

“Organisations, in my view, need to mirror the customer base that they’re serving and the society that we operate within.

“So I think that’s really important and that would have made a difference, and that certainly didn’t exist at RBS 10 years ago.“