New rape allegation suggests banks have a big cultural issue

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It's happened again, and it seems to be worse than before. Bloomberg is reporting that a junior banker on the graduate training scheme at UBS was allegedly raped by a more senior employee at his home.

Both the female junior and the more senior UBS employee are understood to have left UBS, with the senior employee suspended for five months before resigning earlier this year. The victim is not understood to have filed charges with the police about the alleged incident, which is understood to have taken place in the banker's private residence in September 2017. UBS had not even started a formal review into the senior banker's behaviour at the time he resigned (and Financial News says man was allowed to sit very close to the alleged victim in UBS's offices for three weeks after her claims had been made). The bank was, however, was reportedly seeking private mobile-phone messages between the alleged victim and her colleagues. The victim says she was kept in the dark about the investigation and told she would be sacked if she spoke about the matter externally.

A spokesman for UBS said the bank has zero tolerance of sexual misconduct and harassment and immediately investigates all allegations. "This matter is deeply upsetting, and while we cannot discuss it publicly due to employee confidentiality, our first priority is always to support our people and provide a safe environment to report any misconduct. Following significant cases, we conduct a review and if there are opportunities to strengthen our procedures we do so. It is important to note that certain criminal allegations by their very nature need to be investigated by the police," he added. 

The latest allegations come two weeks after Credit Suisse dismissed Paul Dexter, a managing director in its M&A division for alleged "inappropriate behaviour with an intern." Dexter was accused of touching the intern in a physically inappropriate way. Credit Suisse told Bloomberg at the time that all accusations, "are thoroughly investigated and, where called for, consequences are appropriately handled.” However, the bank initially said that the claims against Dexter were unsubstantiated.  At the start of this month, Credit Suisse created a new Zurich-based role to handle sexual harassment claims and boost equal opportunities at the Swiss bank.

In February, Nadia Moukaideche, a former intern at Credit Agricole in France, lost a court case arguing that the atmosphere at the French bank was degrading to women. Moukaideche argued that male colleagues were involved in, “a variety of disgusting and childish behaviors such as animal noises, burps, passing of wind and ball games.”

As banks focus on diversity, many are trying to ensure that 50% of their intern classes are female. However, a report this week from think tank New Financial found that while women make up 52% of the bottom quartile earners in investment banks, just 14% of top quartile earners are female. In an industry where senior staff are predominantly male, it seems banks need to do more to protect the young women coming in at the bottom from the potential for abuse.

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