Karren Brady: 'When Nigel Farage says women are worth less in business I shudder'

The Tory peer and government business advisor heavily criticised the Ukip leader for his somewhat backward views on gender equality in business

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The Independent Online

Karren Brady has attacked Nigel Farage for attempting to "turn back the clock" on women’s rights in the workplace.

The Tory peer and government business advisor heavily criticised the Ukip leader for his somewhat backward views on gender equality in business, saying that he makes her "shudder".

Speaking as she campaigned for Conservative by-election candidate Kelly Tolhurst in Rochester, where Ukip are on course to win their second ever seat on Thursday with Mark Reckless, she said: "When I read comments from Ukip MEPs saying that women 'don't have the ambition to go right to the top' and when Nigel Farage says women are 'worth less' in business I shudder.

"These are the attitudes that make women less likely to put themselves forward – just as we need more of the skills and insight they can bring.


"That's why I'd urge people not to send the wrong message at this by-election – don't support a party that wants to turn the clock back. Instead vote for Kelly – a strong local woman who has a clear plan to improve her community."

Brady was referencing comments Farage made earlier this year, when he spoke to business leaders in the City.

"In many, many cases, women make different choices in life to the ones that men make simply for biological reasons," he said during his speech in January. "If a woman has a client base and has a child and takes two or three years off work, she is worth far less to the employer when she comes back than when she goes away because her client base cannot be stuck rigidly to her.

"I don't believe that in the big banks and brokerage houses and Lloyds of London and everyone else in the City, I do not believe there is any discrimination against women at all. I think that young, able women who are prepared to sacrifice the family life and stick with their careers do as well, if not better, than men."

Standing by his statement, Farage told Channel 4 News over the weekend that he had only been referring to a specific part of the finance industry.

Brady, who holds the position of West Ham United vice chair and is also on the board of Philip Green’s Arcadia and Simon Cowell’s company SyCo, was unlikely, as a mother-of-two and a highly successful businesswoman, to ever have been impressed by Farage’s views.

Earlier this month, she said more value needs to be given to women who decide not leave their children and go to work.

"I think that's a great shame because actually being at home and dedicating yourself to your family is a wonderful thing and should never be underestimated," she told The Telegraph.

"It's not something I chose for myself because I wanted to have a career and a family and I've had to make sacrifices for that. But it's not menial work and it should never be considered as that."

She added that providing affordable childcare was one of many problems facing modern families that must be addressed.

"Something has to be done," she said. "Women will not go back to work unless they know their children are safe and looked after in a proper environment and that is affordable to them. It’s a really big issue."