Diversity double fault for BNP Paribas?

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BNP Paribas takes the issue of diversity in the workplace very seriously. A quick glance at its website tells you as much.

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BNP Paribas takes the issue of diversity in the workplace very seriously. 

A quick glance at its website tells you as much. 

"Our equal employment opportunity philosophy applies in all our employment actions including but not limited to recruiting, hiring, training, transfer, promotion, job benefits, pay, performance appraisals, discipline, and dismissal," it trumpets.

So it must have prompted some embarrassment when the official at the flagship tennis tournament it sponsors in the US, the Indian Wells Masters, caused uproar when he said women tennis players "should get down every night on their knees" and thank leading male players for the amount they earn in prize money. 

The author of these comments, Raymond Moore, CEO of the tournament better known as the BNP Paribas Open, apologized before quickly stepping down. It all seemed a little more Dominique Strauss-Kahn than Jean-Laurent Bonnafé. The Indian Wells tournament follows BNP’s own policy of paying the same in prize money to both its male and female players. Embarrassment quickly diverted.

But then we looked at a list of executives at foreign banks submitted to the UK’s FCA under its new senior managers’ regime. Of the 20 names submitted by BNP Paribas, precisely none were women. Bank of America Merrill Lynch topped the diversity list, according to the FT: more than 40% of its senior managers in London are women.

But it wasn’t all bad news for BNP. 

As one insider wryly observed: "At least all of our senior managers in London weren’t French!" At the énarque-dominated bank, that represents progress in diversity – of a sort.