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Cath Everett

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Chairman of Glencore makes sexist gaffe

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The chairman of the world’s largest commodities trader has sparked off a sexism row after indicating his reluctance to hire young women, particularly to the boardroom, because they have a habit of getting married and having babies.
 
 
 
Septuagenarian Simon Murray, who was only hired as chairman of Glencore last month to facilitate a proposed $60bn public offering, told the Sunday Telegraph that women were "quite as intelligent as men".
 
The problem was that they had "a tendency not to be so involved quite often and they’re not so ambitious in business because they’ve got better things to do. Quite often, they like bringing up their children and all sorts of other things", he said.
 
The issue was that such activities had "unintended consequences". Murray continued: "Pregnant ladies have nine months off. Do you think that means when I rush out, what I’m absolutely desperate to have is young women who are about to get married in my company and that I really need them on the board because I know they’re going to get pregnant and they’re going to go off for nine months?"
 
But Lord Davies, the former banker who conducted the coalition government’s review into the representation of women in boardrooms, told the Guardian that he was "very surprised" by the remarks, which he found "disappointing", "ill-judged and inappropriate".
 
While his report held back from recommending female quotas, Davies had recommended that 25% of companies’ boards should be made up of women and they should publish "aspirational goals" in this area over the next six months.
 
Business secretary Vince Cable, meanwhile, branded Murray’s "prejudices" as "so unbelievably primitive they belong to the middle ages", adding that he "almost single-handedly makes the case for tough action to ensure there are more women on boards and to ensure women’s rights in the workplace are properly entrenched".
 
Murray subsequently tried to diffuse the row. "I apologise for any offence caused by my comments regarding the role of women in business reported in the Sunday Telegraph. I’m 100% committed to equal opportunities in the boardroom and across a company’s structure, be they private or public. Businesses which fail to address the under-representation of women at all levels will be at a competitive disadvantage," he said.

One Response

  1. Simon Murray’s Comments

    — Tony Evans (Director: the Institute of Interim Management: the UK’s dedicated body representing professional Interim practitioners – http://www.ioim.org.uk)

    Given the Chairman realises who he is talking to, the breadth of publicity any comment will get and the sensitivity of these particular comments, what is he really concerned about?

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