MUCH has been made of the significance of today – International Women’s Day – for ladies in the City, so it seems fitting that the appointment of the latest high-flying president of the City Women’s Network (CWN) has been timed to coincide with the festivities.
India Gary-Martin, the new president, is one of the best-known ladies in the City, thanks to her work leading the delivery of the government’s asset protection scheme at Royal Bank of Scotland and her position on this year’s Powerlist, a catalogue of the most influential African-Caribbean people in the UK.
So it goes without saying that she’s got big plans to support her fellow women in business – not least taking on the might of the government on the issues that matter, after the CWN gave evidence to the Treasury Select Committee last year on equal pay.
“The pay gap and lack of transparency about it constitute absolutely one of the two biggest problems facing women in the City today,” she thunders. “That and the so-called “glass cliff” issue – now that women have broken through the glass ceiling like never before, they are often handed roles in which it is impossibly difficult to achieve and then get pushed off the cliff.”
She’s certainly got the contacts to make change happen, particularly in the form of boss and diversity mentor Sir Philip Hampton, the chairman of RBS, with whom the network plans to strike up a lucrative partnership this year. Times really are a-changin’.
Here’s something to brighten up even the coldest of mornings – a look ahead to the sunny summer, courtesy of two former City boys turned beach entrepreneurs.
Harry Brantly and Max Leese, formerly of UBS Wealth Management and DTZ respectively, decided to jack in their City careers in September last year to set up a new venture called FB Collection, catering to the holiday needs of their fashion-conscious peers.
“Essentially, we wanted to create the ‘Hermès of the beach’,” Brantly tells me. “Men never get the chance to flaunt themselves and show off their clothes in their everyday lives, when it’s all about a dark grey suit and at most a colourful tie. Holidays are the two weeks a year when City boys can really let loose…”
The pair’s first luxury product is a “frescobol”, an upmarket beach bat and ball individually crafted from offcuts of sustainably sourced wood (you get the picture). And a range of surf shorts and other clothing is in the pipeline, though Brantly insists the products will be aimed at the 18-45 age group specifically.
“The last thing we’d want to see are the Tony Blairs of the world parading around in our shorts,” he laughs.
A call to arms for the rugby aficionados of the City – many of whom will be in vigorous training already for the City Scrum Cup later on this month at the Honourable Artillery Ground.
Twenty teams are competing this year, supported by the Harlequins rugby club and the event’s sponsor, law firm Norton Rose.
The gauntlet is down for last year’s champions, JP Morgan...