Donna Ball, 53, pictured today, is seeking £400,000 from Coutts bank for gender discrimination, equal pay and victimisation
A woman financier yesterday accused the Queen’s bank Coutts of being an ‘exclusive gentlemen’s club’ in a £400,000 sexism claim.
In the latest alleged case of ‘sexism in the City’, Donna Ball, 53, claims that a ‘glass ceiling’ meant she was the only senior woman out of almost 50 executives in the bank’s commercial department.
She alleges she was repeatedly blocked from promotion to director level because of ‘unspoken sexism’ at the 300-year-old private bank for the super-rich.
Its own gender pay gap figures show that women staff earn more than a quarter less than men on average, an employment tribunal heard.
Miss Ball is seeking £400,000 from the bank for gender discrimination, equal pay and victimisation. She had a basic salary of just over £60,000, plus a bonus of between £7,000 and £10,000.
Her claim is the latest embarrassment for the bank, which has served the Royal Family since George IV. Last year it was embroiled in a separate sex pest scandal.
Harry Keogh, managing director of its private wealth department, had to quit in disgrace after allegedly outraging women colleagues with heavy drinking, lewd comments and groping.
It also launched a sexism inquiry after an employee was photographed wearing a novelty penis hat on a charity cricket tour to Rwanda.
Yesterday Miss Ball, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire, told Central London Employment Tribunal she joined Coutts in 2010.
Coutts’, headquarters in London pictured, own gender pay gap figures show that women staff earn more than a quarter less than men on average, an employment tribunal heard
She says she was invited to meetings ‘in part to ensure that there was a female present’. She added: ‘Otherwise clients began to be put off by what appeared to be an exclusive gentleman’s club.’
The hearing was told that she increased the revenue she generated for the bank from £850,000 in 2011 to £2.5million last year – but she believed there was a ‘glass ceiling’ in the commercial department.
She claimed ‘unspoken sexism’ discouraged female staff from speaking out when they were denied promotion and meant male colleagues weren’t ‘properly disciplined’ over sexual harassment.
Last year Harry Keogh, managing director of its private wealth department, pictured, had to quit after allegedly outraging women colleagues with lewd comments and groping
The tribunal heard Mr Keogh was initially given a written warning and had a bonus withheld but was allowed to keep his job. He finally quit last March and is bringing a claim for unfair dismissal.
Miss Ball said she outperformed some male counterparts four-fold but she was denied lucrative referrals.
Refusing to put her forward for interview for promotion, her manager David Waters warned her to ‘be careful on those hills’ as she prepared to tackle a charity challenge – a comment she came to regard as ‘a veiled threat’.
She claimed he manipulated performance data to justify blocking her promotion, forcing her to make a formal complaint. It was rejected and Miss Ball said she was told ‘off the record’ that she had been overlooked because, as a woman, her ‘face doesn’t fit’.
She said bosses then seized upon a minor data breach to discipline her disproportionately and again refused to nominate her for promotion last year.
‘I knew they had closed ranks,’ she said. ‘I felt ill, suffered severe headaches and could not sleep at night.’ She has been on sick leave ever since.
Coutts & Co, owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, insists Miss Ball’s performance did not merit promotion. It is vigorously contesting the tribunal.
A Coutts source said it was not the case that Miss Ball had been the most senior female executive in the commercial department at the time.