Sexism in the City (Elections)

Simon Clark’s Bloomberg article “Sexism in the City of London as men rule in elections” (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-25/sexism-in-the-city-of-london-as-men-rule-in-elections.html) draws out a number of crucial issues for the Corporation to tackle as the Council starts a new four year term.

Clark’s core point about the gender imbalance of the City’s corporate nominee electors is absolutely valid. As he evidences in his article, it is certainly the case that many nominating bodies fail to comply with section 4 of the 2002 City of London Ward Elections Act which requires that they:

“shall ensure that the appointments which it makes reflect, so far as is reasonably practicable, the composition of the workforce.”

And firms failing to represent the correct gender balance is only part of the problem. There are still too many businesses who only appoint electors from their top management grades, let alone failing to reflect the ethnicity, socio-economic/educational background, disability, sexuality etc of their workers.

There are some stars in the firmament however. A number of businesses invite all staff to volunteer to be City electors, some make a random selection, and a few hold a ballot within their employees to choose who represents them. They remain in the distinct minority and in the majority of cases, electors are selected by one person in a company with an unfortunate lack of transparency.

To my mind, the idea of worker voters remains a sound one, especially in a unique business and professional centre like the City of London. I wonder though whether the concept of trying to make those worker nominees truly representative is going to be an impossible task. Would it not be better simply to enfranchise everyone who works in the Square Mile, ensuring that the Corporation represents all those it serves and removing the risk of it being beholden to a small number of nominated electors?

Sexism and lack of diversity in the City remains a problem, but it shouldn’t be exacerbated by our voting system. We must do our best in the next four years to change for the better.

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