Shortage of women at BOE may lead lawmakers to reject future appointments

A pedestrian walks past the Bank of England in the City of London, U.K., on Monday July 31, 2017. (Bloomberg pic)

LONDON: A lack of diversity at the Bank of England may force lawmakers to take matters into their own hands.

Members of a Parliament committee that scrutinizes the Treasury and BOE said they’re concerned about the absence of diversity in senior positions at the central bank. While they approved the BOE’s latest appointees– both men — just this week, the group will make progress on the issue into account in future.

That means the Treasury Committee could decide not to approve an appointment to any of the BOE’s policy boards if it felt insufficient effort had been made to find a more diverse candidate.

While that would not bind the UK Treasury — which appoints BOE roles — to choose an alternative, it could prove highly embarrassing. A report by the committee last year that new Deputy Governor Charlotte Hogg did not meet the standards required for the role prompted her to resign.

The latest appointments were Jonathan Haskel to the Monetary Policy Committee and Bradley Fried as chairman of the BOE’s Court of Directors, its governing body. At his appointment hearing, Fried acknowledged the bank needed to move and he hopes to have diverse shortlist of candidates to replace Mark Carney, who’s due to step down as governor next year.

Treasury Committee Chair Nicky Morgan said the slow progress on gender balance at senior BOE levels was “disappointing.” The nine-member MPC currently has just one woman, while the Financial Policy Committee has nine male and three female members.

Haskel’s appointment has drawn particular attention as he was the only man among the five shortlisted candidates, prompting the Treasury to confirm his appointment was made wholly on merit.

Alongside her comments, Morgan published letters to both the Treasury’s Permanent Secretary Tom Scholar and BOE Governor Mark Carney criticizing the lack of progress and requesting action plans.