“Oh Rose thou art sick”


The way things were

I don’t know Alison Rose , I know one of her former  (female) Board colleagues  I suspect that Rose’s resignation last night as  NatWest’s CEO will be met with frustration

It is one thing to get women to a top position, another to keep them there.  Alison Rose’s departure shows how uneasy lies the head. A man has won his case, a woman has lost her job, a bank has lost its leader.

Read Frances Coppola’s analysis of Nigel Farage’s case and then decide whether Alison Rose should have apologised, let alone resigned.

I wrote yesterday that leaders need to be respected and supported. I meant this of Nausicaa Delfas at TPR and I suspect that in financial services, the woman at the top is especially vulnerable.

Alison Rose resigned over an out of hours conversation with a BBC journalist. Despite being embroiled in his own scandals the male DG of the BBC has managed to “tough it out”.

I am not arguing for special privilege for women in senior leadership roles but I think they deserve special respect and Alison Rose looks like she has got no respect and precious little support either from her own board or from the wider financial community.

At a much less senior level, we have seen this month the pillorying of a respected industry figure for having anachronistic views on diversity and the self-abasement of one of a senior editor who allowed his views to be published in his paper.

I am used to being called out , but last week I was called out for sexism by suggesting that women are more interested in kitchens than Lamborghinis.

The digital vigilante who patrol social media , finding opportunities to expose inconsistencies in what people say and  do is leading to a special kind of suppression. It controls dissenting views by marginalising them and eventually silencing them.

Whoever replace Alison Rose will arrive sufficiently vetted to  be “germ-free”. But undoubtedly this will dumb down the creative spirit that Alison Rose was showing at NatWest and lead to the bank retreating into the risk-free holding pattern which it flew after the disaster of 2008.

And each time a successful woman is hounded out of a top job, as Alison Rose has been , there are a group of aspiring women who stop and think whether taking leadership responsibility is really such a good idea.

Each time , an article is taken down from a paper because it offends a commonly held view, other free-thinker put down their pens and keep thoughts to themselves.

This is how innovation dies, how productivity is depressed.

O Rose, thou art sick:
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy;
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to “Oh Rose thou art sick”

  1. John Mather says:

    There was no need to resign. She made an error of judgement but not one so awful to end a career.

    Talented people like this should not be sacrificed

    The complainant shows no shame or remorse for what he has done for the U.K. economy.

  2. Sex has nothing to do with it. If a bank CEO lies about the reason for shutting a client’s account to a BBC journalist, she, or he, deserves to be sacked.

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