Sunday, 3 March 2013

Did political correctness cause the credit crunch? :-)

I do like question No. 4423 in the House of Commons Banking Standards deliberations on 27th Feb 2013. The chair (Andrew Tyrie) asked Martin Wheatley (of the Financial Services Authority) the following.
I have in front of me what I consider to be a somewhat extraordinary questionnaire which has 17 pages of boxes to tick on financial sector diversity. It asks firms a series of questions: how many staff they have, what gender they are, and what is their race or  ethnicity, their faith, belief, age and sexual orientation — incidentally, that is divided up into  gender identity, transgender and intersex — and then it goes on to disability, pregnancy,  maternity, marital status, carer  and so on.
There are pages and pages of this, in great detail. It  is voluntary, and I think it was put round about 18 months ago. I saw a firm on the day this arrived, and of course it arrived with the compliance officer.  He considered it sufficiently important that he had better interrupt the chief executive, who  was in a meeting discussing a major transaction, because he did not want to be on the wrong  side of the regulator, filling in loads of boxes wrongly because they did not have all the  information  available or, worse, sending a message, “Frankly, we are too busy trying to deal with the consequences of the crisis”. . . . . .  
Hmmm. Hasn’t the FSA got better things to do than ask the above sort of question? No doubt the above sort of question should be asked, but couldn’t that be left to some sort of “political correctness compliance” body?
Incidentally, prior to Andrew Tyrie’s above question, Martin Wheatley was being quizzed by a “Mr Love”. This could form the basis of “Yes Prime Minister” scene.
Note: the above question was copied from the UNCORRECTED online version of the Banking Standards meeting. However, having actually listened to the meeting, I can vouch that, while there might be one or two individual words that are wrong in the above paragraphs, the THRUST of the above PC question No 4423 was very much as it appears in the above two paragraphs.

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