Women and Banks - are female customers facing discrimination? - 11/24/2011
This paper from the Institute for Public Policy Research asks whether women in the UK, Europe and America are being discriminated against by banks, as customers.
While certain aspects of banks’ behaviour – subprime lending, governance structures, oversight mechanisms and so on – have been interrogated in the wake of the 2008–09 financial crisis, how banks treated and continue to treat women customers is a subject that has received little attention.
The findings of this research, however, point to the need to shine the spotlight on banks’ practices in this area. Key findings include:
Evidence in the UK of banks discriminating against pregnant women and women on maternity leave seeking mortgages
This seems to be an ongoing industry-wide practice, with a number of leading UK high street banks named.
The UK findings correspond to recent similar findings in the United States on the basis of which the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched an inquiry. This paper calls for a similar investigation to take place in the UK.
Evidence in Europe of banks discriminating against women entrepreneurs
Research suggests women are being asked for more collateral than men for loans, being charged higher interest rates and being refused loans more frequently than men.
Given prime minister David Cameron’s emphasis on entrepreneurship as the ‘only strategy’ by which the UK economy can grow, and the importance of access to credit from banks for entrepreneurs to thrive, this paper calls for an investigation into banks’ treatment of female entrepreneurs and for banks to publish their lending decisions by gender in a transparent fashion. This is to ensure that women are able to fully participate in the economic recovery, especially given the current context – one in which cuts in the public sector have led to the highest level of female unemployment in the UK for 20 years, and entrepreneurship may be a lifeline.
Download the full report HERE