The executive director of the Queen’s bank Coutts denied it was an “old boys’ club” amid a £400,000 sexism claim.
Donna Ball, 53, claims a ‘glass ceiling’ meant she was the only senior woman among 47 executives in the bank’s commercial department.
The financier said – in the latest alleged case of ‘sexism in the City’ – that she was blocked from promotion to director level because of ‘unspoken sexism’ at the 300-year-old private bank which has served the Royal Family since the days of George IV.
Central London Employment Tribunal heard how female staff earn more than a quarter less than men on average.
But Coutts’ executive director of commercial banking David Waters (CORR) said a pay gap only appears to exist – because ‘there are more men in senior positions’.
He said: “The gap is large because there is a high number of women in clerical levels, these alignments feed into the gap.
“I have been aware that there are more men in senior positions. Senior members of staff earn more money at the company.
“There will be a combination of factors, partly due to the fact that many stay in their role until more roles become available.”
Mr Waters explained that instead of similar roles being compared for pay disparity – the numbers instead concern a total average.
The tribunal was launched after Miss Ball felt she missed out on a promotion, and was subject of lower bonus pay at Coutts.
Miss Ball of Stevenage, Herts, is seeking £400,000 for gender discrimination, equal pay and victimisation at the bank.
She worked at the company for nine years, receiving a salary of more than £60,000, plus bonuses of up to £10,000.
Coutts & Co, owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), reject the tribunal and insist Miss Ball was not yet qualified for a promotion.
Her role as relationship manager saw a salary of more than £60,000, plus bonuses – and she had been at the bank for nine years.
Miss Ball claims she was invited to meetings to ‘ensure that there was a female’ to lessen the image of ‘an exclusive gentleman’s club’.
Mr Waters said: “There are other female staff members who are senior. She is not the only one of her level within the company.
“There is a 37 per cent gender representation within the whole of Cootes. We have had diversity training in place for some time.”
Mr Waters, from who has worked at the firm for 33 years, claimed he had a ‘good relationship’ with Miss Ball before her claim.
He added: “I have known Donna since she joined, I was her line manager between jan 2013 to jan 2018 – my relationship was good.
“I have seen she is a self starting, outgoing, active networker, willing to look for business – all positive qualities necessary to build a pipelines of new business opportunities.”
Coutts has previously been involved in claims of sexism, with managing director Harry Keogh quitting after groping accusations.
The tribunal continues.
By Daniel Hammond