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Maternity leave too long, says fund veteran Pease

MATERNITY leave is too long at 52 weeks and is damaging women&rsquo;s opportunities in the workplace, deputy chairman of investment house JO Hambro Nichola Pease told a Treasury committee yesterday.<br /><br />In an evidence session on the City gender divide, Pease said: &ldquo;A year is too long and sex discrimination cases that run into the tens of millions are ridiculous.&rdquo;<br /><br />Pease, who has three of her own children with hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, said the days of the &ldquo;old boy network&rdquo; were long gone.<br /><br />But she warned that firms were put off hiring women by the length of maternity leave and the threat of sexual discrimination cases, for which damages are unlimited.<br /><br />The committee is seeking to establish whether a greater proportion of women in high-level City roles could have helped prevent the risk-taking that led to the banking crisis.<br /><br />Professor Charles Goodhart, a former Bank of England monetary policy committee member, said that &ldquo;less of the alpha male would be beneficial&rdquo;.