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Banks fail to tackle inequality between men and women: New study from Fair Finance Netherlands

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Most Dutch banks are still not doing enough to combat inequality between women and men. This is according to new research published today, on Internationals Women’s Day, by the Dutch Fair Finance Guide. The latest survey found that most Dutch banks still score a failing grade on the themes of 'women's rights' and 'tackling inequality'. This applies to Rabobank, ABN AMRO, Triodos Bank, Van Lanschot, ING and NIBC with only de Volksbank scoring well. The low scores are mainly due to a blind spot with regard to women's rights in the loans and investments of banks.

Barbara Oosters, Fair Finance Guide Project Leader said 'Banks not only have a responsibility to tackle inequality between women and men in their own companies, but also through their loans and investments. This is still far too low a priority for most banks.”


Gender inequality within banking organisations

With regard to gender inequality within the banking organisations, some banks are catching up. These are Rabobank, ABN AMRO, Van Lanschot, Triodos and NIBC. However, they are not there yet. De Volksbank is doing well. ING has shown no improvement compared to two years ago while Bunq scores poorly on this part.

Within the banking organisations, the inequality between women and men is most apparent with regard to salaries. The pay gap between women and men in the financial sector is one of the largest in the Dutch economy. Working women earned on average 6.9% less than men in 2021. This difference amounts to 23.8% in the financial sector. Only 3 of the 8 banks, ABN Amro, Van Lanschot Kempen and de Volksbank, report on measures they are taking to close this gap.

All listed banks this year meet the minimum statutory target of 33 percent women on the supervisory board, at a number of banks that is 40 percent. In senior management positions, only 3 banks, ABN Amro, Rabobank and Triodos, have a percentage of women equal to or higher than 30%. We are, furthermore still waiting for the first female CEO of a Dutch bank

Gender inequality in companies in which banks invest

For the report, the Bank Guide examined the inequality between women and men within the banks themselves and also their approach to this in the companies in which the banks invest. Specifically, it looked at the bank financing of 8 supermarkets where violations of women's rights in the supply chain had already been identified. ABN Amro, ING Rabobank and Van Lanschot together provided 1.2 billion euros in loans and 67 million euros in investments to these supermarkets.

In some supermarket supply chains in which banks invest, there is sexual harassment, abuse and violence in addition to a pay gap. In the Thai shrimp sector, women work in dangerous working conditions, with excessive working hours and earn 28.7% less than men. In Brazil, coffee workers earn 16% less than their male colleagues.

On this Oosters says: 'Most Dutch supermarkets have started working on this, after social pressure, some have not yet. Banks are investing heavily in these supermarkets and so must urge those left behind to respect women's rights in their supply chains. Only de Volksbank demands this from its customers. Other banks such as ABN Amro say they are going to work with this, but this should have been the standard policy for a long time. The largest bank, ING, is still not doing anything. That has to change.”

 

Read the report in full here.

 

Note for editors:

Barbara Oosters, Fair Bank Guide Project Leader, is available for information and/or interviews. Contact Jules van Os, Oxfam Novib press office, 0651573683.

  • The Fair Bank Guide is a partnership between Amnesty International, Milieudefensie, Oxfam Novib, PAX and World Animal Protection.
  • This research was carried out by Profundo.
  • At www.eerlijkegeldwijzer.nl/bankwijzer, consumers can compare the scores of the banks for their policy and practice in corporate financing. They can also take action, for example by sending their bank a complaint or compliment.

 

 

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