Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-130)|
UK AND FINANCIAL
2 MARCH 2005
Q120 Mr Evans: Maybe this is something
my party should adopt to try to get more women into politics.
Mr Caple: That is a good ideaespecially
Ms Cantelo: What you have said
about television is very interesting, because television is something
else we have seen: within the IT industry in television programmes
you often get this really pale, geeky guy, who never sees the
light of day. I got a BBC commissioning editor, the producer of
The Bill and a few other soaps, etcetera, around the table
for dinner one night and discussed this with them. We showed them
a presentation on the problems. They actually said, "This
is wrongbecause stereotyping is very, very poor drama and
that is exactly what we are guilty of." He was about to commission
Spooks at that time and he was promising to make a change.
The trouble with a programme like that is that my paymasters were
saying, "Yes, but how can you prove that you have made a
change?"and it is very difficult to prove that, because
it is very much sort of at the back of the brain what is changing
thingsso it was not a programme that carried on. But I
thought it would have been very valuable, because, as long as
you approach it from the drama producers' viewpoint, which is
that they want to make good drama, you can then say, "Look,
I can help you make good drama because I can show you real IT
institutions or real financial institutions and you can see what
is going onyou can get it more real, you can have a better
relationship with the industry, you can find out real drama storiesand
you stop stereotyping." So you see it from their point of
view, you cannot expect them to be altruistic about it, but actually
there is a way of working with them without seeming to be bossing
them around or anything but just working in a partnership to get
these images much better and more accurate.
Q121 Mr Evans: That has been more effective,
has it, in getting representation of women working in jobs with
which you do not normally associate them?
Ms Cantelo: It was a one off.
They were very positive when I spoke to them, but it was a one
off, because, as I say, funding it was very difficult. It was
just taking them out to dinner, but, even in the public sector,
it was sort of, "Yes, but what have you achieved?" and
I said, "Well, they are talking to us, this is great"
but it did not carry on. I would have loved that to have carried
on because I do think it was effective. There is an organisation
called PAWS as well about getting writers to be aware of science.
They give awards to writers who have managed to put science into
their programmes in a good way. I was not so impressed with that
organisationit was a great idea, but I do not think it
carried it through in the right way.
Q122 Chairman: How effective do you think
these campaigns are when they are set alongside the lurid stories
of sexism and abuse that the high-achieving women in the city
seem to have to undergo because of the culture of male chauvinism?
Ms Cantelo: I think you convince
them that that is an old stereotype that has been done to death,
that actually there are far more interesting and more accurate
stories out there that are just as dramatic. The way for them
to find out about them is to have a much closer relationship with
the industry they are trying to portray. If they are trying to
do something about IT, then they really need to come and see what
is going on in the IT industry. There are some fascinating storiessome
really dramatic stuff. The IT industry controls everything from
defence to health.
Q123 Chairman: Let's look at the financial
services as distinct from IT. One hears of these stories of quite
outrageous behaviour that is tolerated. I have spoken to stockbrokers
who have said, "Well, we don't like it, but there's nothing
we can do about it because that is the way they behave".
It may the public-school beatings they had and things like that,
but, those of us who did not have that background find it a wee
bit hard to understand.
Mr Caple: So do I. My background
is a Welsh grammar school, but I did play rugby and the locker-room
mentality and the locker-room culture is quite pervasive, I think.
One has to understandand one only solves these problems
by understandingthat everyone who works on a trading floor
or as an investment analyst works under enormous pressure, enormous
psychological pressure. That is an issue to which we have perhaps
not paid sufficient attention in recruiting and developing people
for these jobs. That pressure becomes doubled, yes, if you are
a womanbecause it is a very macho culture and all the usual
games and tricks get playedbut do not let me paint a picture
that this happens in every stockbroking field and in every trading
team. It does not. What we see and what gets publicised and sadly
what appears . . . no, not sadly . . . what quite rightly appears
in a courtroom, are genuinely exceptions. What do we do about
it? It is no good just saying, "They are exceptions, we can't
do much about that." Neither is it any good saying that we
cannot do anything about it. I do not accept that. That is weak
and weedy as a response. The question is: How do you change culture?
The one measure that you establish is through setting quality
standards, through actually saying, "This is not good enough."
One of the things that the regulator does, the FSA, through its
Conduct of Business Rules, is to set standards for ethical behaviour.
We set standards as well which are about performance. We also
happen to be in a position of setting standards for exams. Those
processes embody demonstration of ethical behaviournot
just in passing an exam but in actual job performance. Those are
Q124 Chairman: How long have they been
Mr Caple: Only for the last two
or three years. You will not solve it simply by
Q125 Chairman: That is why I asked because
I was not sure how long
Mr Caple: In a culture of the
sort I have described, behaviour is changed by two drivers. One
is other people saying stop itand that is where senior
managements in firms, particularly, are more active and are becoming
more active, because they begin to understand the reputational
damage that bad news brings to the firm. The second driver is
through the influence of those clients of these firms, many of
whom are major corporations within our economy or in the global
economyand there, I think, the responsibility of ourselves
as a Skills Council is to talk to them about this issue of appropriate
behaviour and ethical behaviour in terms of good business practice.
After all, if you are given the choice of buying a car from Arthur
Daley or a Ford main dealer, who would you prefer to go to? The
message needs to be got over in that kind of language. We have
a part to play in that.
Chairman: Thank you.
Q126 Judy Mallaber: Could we go back
to the question of hours which you touched on earlier. Do you
think that, in order to help deal with the problem around women
workers finding jobs where the hours fit in with domestic commitments,
the proposal that has been made to us that it should be mandatory
for employers to offer part-time or flexi-time work, including
for higher paid occupations, is something that we should consider?
Ms Cantelo: No, I would prefer
the carrot approach. If you are a really good employee, whether
you are a man or a woman, you can go to whoever you want as an
employer because they will all want you. Basically, as we were
saying earlier, it is a knowledge industry. The companies that
are profitable and good get their reputations on how good their
employees are. A very good employee, therefore, should be treated
just like a customer. The best employee can choose who they work
for, so therefore employers need to treat them almost like customers.
They have to have very good working practices and therefore they
will get the best employees. If companies start understanding
thatas some of them doyou sort of spread that best
practice message. We had a company in Scotland called Absolute
Quality and they were offering a 24/7 IT service: a helpdesk,
etcetera. A lot of people said there was no way that that company
could work part-time, but in fact everyone almost worked part-time,
right up to the directors. They said that it was a huge amount
of hassle but the returns they got were amazing, in that they
could recruit whoever they wanted in the area. Everyone saw them
as the employer of choice, which meant they had the best staff,
which meant they were the most profitable company. It was as simple
as that. Once companies understand if you work very good working
practices then you can employ who you like, you can employ the
best people, you become the employer of choice and therefore you
become the most profitable companyit is a simple straight
line like that. I think it would be far more effective if companies
actually began to understand that and we spread that message around.
Q127 Judy Mallaber: Do you think that
is unique to the IT sector, because there is now this tradition
about much of the work being done by people operating, in effect,
as consultants or self-employed businesses? I speak as someone
who has a sister in IT, who now seems to do very well going around
and helping companies and organisations sort out their systems.
Ms Cantelo: I think individuals
and micro businesses quite often are different, because people
can work as they want. For major business, quite often it is a
long-hours' culture, particularly during certain projects, and
it seems that the contract with the customer quite often demands
a certain project manager to be available or a lot of mobility.
That makes it impossible for women to work part-time on that project.
That is something that goes into public sector contracts sometimes
as well. So the public sector is putting out a contract saying,
"We demand this, this and this," and it makes it impossible
for the employer then to offer part-time working. The customers
also need to look at the contracts they are demanding from the
IT industry, and if you want the best companies working for you
then somehow you have to accommodate flexible working within that.
Q128 Judy Mallaber: Is there a legitimate
argument that in a high tech, high knowledge sector like yours
you do need that continuity of certain individuals over the project
because of their knowledge base?
Ms Cantelo: I think you can still
have continuity but having flexible working within that. It is
a matter of dividing it up sensibly. Yes, it takes a bit more
effort. Absolute Quality said to us, "Yes, it takes a bit
more effort but the payback is huge, absolutely huge."
Q129 Judy Mallaber: You have given us
the ideal, how do you persuade employers to do that without making
it mandatory for them to offer the part-time contracts?
Ms Cantelo: In the same way that
you find out what motivates girls, and you convince them. You
say, "What is going to motivate employers?" What motivates
employers is their bottom-line and how it impacts on the bottom-line.
Does it make them a more successful business? A lot of them at
the moment are saying, "No, it is too much hassle, it is
going to cost a lot," but if they can actually see it is
quite the reversethat, yes, it is a hassle but actually
it means you have access to people you would not have access to
otherwisebecome the employer of choice and therefore you
become a more effective company. It is understanding that message,
which I do not think is out there. At the moment there is "part
commitment", it is seen as a hassle, etcetera, but a huge
number of people could be in the workforce, could be making huge
contributions to these companies. They are not at the moment because
they cannot fit in their lives around it.
Mr Caple: Also the productivity
argument is very powerful. If you look at the levels of productivity
of people doing particularly repetitive work over 35 to 40 hours,
compared with two people doing the same work split over that time
the net productivity is greater for part-time workers. That is
a very simple business argument. I do not think you need to legislate
to convince employers that that is worth looking at.
Ms Cantelo: I think you make the
economic argument, and I do not think that economic argument has
been made very strongly so far. I think it is has all been done
from altruism. As I say, you will convince the good companies
but you are not going to convince the othersand it is the
others you need to convince.
Q130 Judy Mallaber: Do you have any other
examples you can give us now or send on to us of good practice
or of ideas that we could suggest government can do.
Ms Cantelo: There are a few things.
One of the things we keep coming up with time and time again is
the duplication of initiatives. Someone runs a project for women
and someone else starts one there, etcetera, etcetera. It seems
to me that a very sensible solution is that for any publicly funded
project, any one where there is public funding, it should be mandatory
to produce one page which says who it is aimed at, what it is
about, where the money is coming from, who is in charge of it.
That should go on a central database, so that anyone who is about
to run a publicly funded project, say on women and pay or whatever,
would type in those words and it will come up with anything that
is already going on. Then you stop the duplication straight away.
As I have said, it seems crazy that you have so much duplication
and things starting off, which, just as they are starting to be
effective, they end because of pump-priming etcetera. I think
the other thing is that the Government as a public sector customer
needs to look very carefully at contracts, to make sure that contracts
are not actually mitigating against companies being allowed to
offer part-time work or forcing mobility which also causes so
many problems for women.
Chairman: Thank you very much. That was