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Even Leibovitz can’t make banks look good

Star photographer Annie Leibovitz was in Singapore recently, promoting a new exhibition commissioned by UBS.

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Annie Leibovitz explains her Women: New Portraits exhibition

In the humid old halls of the long-disused Tanjong Pagar station, for many years the southern terminus of the rail line to Malaysia, Leibovitz explained her Women: New Portraits exhibition, a pop-up show that is moving through 10 cities across the globe. 

Euromoney asks Leibovitz how she weighs up banks’ largely-reprehensible standards of gender equality when deciding whether to accept bank funding for an exhibition on women, or indeed corporate jobs, since Leibovitz has undertaken advertising commissions for UBS too. 

“I think doing this is a step forward,” she says. “I believe banks like UBS want things to be better for women. They have to step up, and they are stepping up.” She insisted UBS made no restrictions on whom she chose to shoot for the exhibition, pointing to her selection of Elizabeth Warren, who chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel to oversee bank bailouts after the global financial crisis and who drove the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as evidence. 

“I could do what I wanted to do. I’m proud to be part of this.” Leibovitz says she had really wanted to get Angela Merkel for the exhibition, but “unfortunately she was very busy”.


On the way out Euromoney is given a fact sheet on UBS and women, which, among other things, boasts that women occupy “almost 25%” of management roles, and that women now represent 17% of the Group Executive Board versus zero in 2015 (which is to say, of course, that men are still 83% of it). UBS aspires for women to hold one third of its leadership roles across the board.

These are, shamefully, thought to be among the best statistics of any leading international bank. Deutsche’s Vorstand management board has one woman out of 10 members; Credit Suisse’s executive board has one out of 12.