DEBATE: With sexual harassment in the news, does the City need to confront its own problem?

by and

People in the City make judgements about women every day (Source: Getty)

With sexual harassment in the news, does the City need to confront its own problem?

Carrie Osman, chief executive at tech and fintech strategy firm CRUXY&CO, says YES.

It’s easy to point fingers at Hollywood and claim this is not a problem for “us”. But harassment and sexism permeate society, and the City needs to wake up.

People in the City make judgements about women every day without realising how damning they are.

A quip about men’s ability to make “unemotional” decisions based on data, inappropriately sexist or sexualised comments that get ignored in the moment, taking a meeting because of the attractiveness of the female sales staff, or hiring women to be greeters at events and to flirt with the male attendees (yes, I’ve been to events where that happens).

These things happen constantly, and we need to call them out. They should be confronted and squashed by every man and woman who hears or sees them.

Change comes from within. It’s time to stop thinking this is not true of your sector, your firm, or your team. Face the reality, and start doing something about it.

Read more: Sexism in the City: Jayne-Anne Gadhia tells MPs of "pervading sexism"

Alex Deane, a Conservative commentator, says NO.

While I now work in the Square Mile, I answer “no” because of my background in criminal law.

In the broad spectrum of sex-based allegations now surfacing across different parts of society, much is for the police and courts. There should be no message that employers, colleagues, HR systems, or misplaced notions of “loyalty” to a firm should stand between a victim and reporting what has happened to the police. One does not have to doubt the goodwill of the employer concerned to realise that focusing on the role of firms here can actually obscure or overcomplicate that which is best kept clear and straightforward: just tell the police.

Broader, non-criminal, cultural questions about exploitative behaviour are serious, but the above must come first. On that broader point, it is for every employer to provide an appropriate workplace environment: here I see much that is positive in the City and have no reason to think the Square Mile uniquely at fault culturally in its collective approach.

Read more: PMQs live: Theresa May answers MPs' questions amid sexual harassment storm