SNB Taps Experts to Confront Pay Complaints After Sexism Furor

The Swiss National Bank is using external experts to ensure women aren’t shortchanged on pay and promotion after reports they were subject to disparate treatment.

Already faced with the deepest economic slump in decades due to the pandemic, the SNB found itself under public scrutiny last year following a story published by website Republik detailing bullying and salary discrimination endured by female staff.

Although an internal review of the allegations found only a few cases and no systematic pattern of sexism and bullying, SNB Bank Council President Barbara Janom Steiner said corrective action nevertheless had been taken.

“Processes relating to the reporting of misconduct -- as well as to hiring, salary-setting and promotion -- are being validated or certified by external experts,” the supervisory board chief said in a speech at the central bank’s annual general meeting on Friday. “This work is already well underway and any possibilities for improvement will be systematically implemented.”

As of last year, 18% of senior managers at the SNB were women, compared with 31% at the European Central Bank, where President Christine Lagarde has committed boosting diversity and said she still encounters sexism and patronizing comments.

“It would really be to the credit of policy makers, governments, leaders of institutions, leaders in the corporate world to take a stand and steps in order to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” Lagarde told an Aspen Institute conference this week. “It’s huge waste of talent.”

Speaking at the AGM, SNB President Thomas Jordan said his institution was keen to raise the proportion of women further. Diversity at the SNB meant having a good mix of different criteria, including gender, geographic origin and professional experience, he said.

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