Jim Armitage: Lack of women makes banquet unbalanced

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The Independent Online

Outlook Speakers at the City of London Banquet for financial bigwigs in Mansion House the other night seemed almost embarrassed by the opulent splendour of the surroundings.

At a time of financial hardship still blamed by many on the financial-services industry, perhaps a touch of guilt about the gilt was appropriate.

But, more striking to me was the lack of women present. What few there were (44 out of 273 if I counted correctly) seemed mainly from regulators, embassies and the media, not banks. We rows of middle-aged, white men, all dressed in our dickie bows looked like relics from a Dickensian age.

A neighbour at my table pointed out that, at his first City Banquet a decade or so back, Rachel Lomax, the former deputy governor of the Bank of England, was the only woman present, and had been condescended to all evening.

When Fiona Woolf takes over as Lord Mayor, she will be only the second woman to have held that office in seven centuries.

Hopefully she'll shake things up and I'll be reporting on a healthier balance at next year's feast. If they'll have me, that is.