From glass ceilings to factory floors - Dutch banks fall short on gender rights

08 March 2020

Dutch banks fall seriously short in their approach to inequality between men and women. Four of the seven banks surveyed by Fair Finance Netherlands - ABN Amro, ING, NIBC and Van Lanschot - do not meet the legal target of at least 30 percent women at the top. De Volksbank, Rabobank and Triodos achieve this. Almost none of the banks defends women's rights at companies in which they invest. 

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This is evident from the new practical research published in time for International Women's Day. For the investigation, Fair Finance NL looked at ten mining, electronics, paper and clothing companies where the risk of violence against women is high and where the health of women is at risk. ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank lend billions of dollars to these companies. It is the first time that the Fair Finance NL has investigated this topic.

Mining notorious for violations
Peter Ras, Fair Finance NL project leader: "Banks are really lagging behind in the approach to inequality between women and men. Banks must not only make a major catch-up themselves, but must also work to improve the position of women in the companies in which they invest."

Mining is an example of a sector that is notorious for violations of women's rights. Women often face dangerous chemicals and violence around mines. ING lends more than 2 billion dollars to three mining companies being investigated, ABN Amro 1.7 billion to three mining companies, and Rabobank 1.1 billion to one company. None of these banks report on whether they hold these companies accountable for women's rights and health.

De Volksbank and Triodos demand a zero tolerance policy on discrimination against women, from the companies in which they invest . Other banks do not do this. And although the UN agency UN Women makes clear recommendations for this, no bank has a policy specifically aimed at promoting all aspects of equality between men and women.

No women at the top
Four of the seven banks surveyed do not meet the statutory target of at least 30 percent women at the top - in the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. NIBC and Van Lanschot have fewer than 30 percent female supervisory directors, ING fewer than 30 percent women on the Executive Board. There are not even any women in ING's Executive Board. ABN Amro does not reach the minimum for both the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. None of the seven banks examined has a female CEO at the head.

The pay gap between men and women in the financial sector is among the largest in the Dutch economy, and has increased in recent years. Only two banks, de Volksbank and NIBC, monitor wage differences between male and female employees and take measures to reduce these. De Volksbank, which includes ASN Bank and SNS, shows the greatest commitment when it comes to improving the position of women. De Volksbank is therefore the only one to achieve a strong score in this assessment.