Mothers are worth less to City firms than men, Ukip leader Nigel Farage claimed yesterday – but women prepared to sacrifice family life can do as well as male colleagues, if not better.
Mr Farage, who worked in a brokerage firm for nearly 20 years, told an audience in the City of London that he believed women make “different choices” to men for “biological reasons”.
He said he believed there was no discrimination against women in the City but his own experience had shown that brokers are “as valuable as the client base that sticks with you and will move with you”.
“In many, many cases, women make different choices in life to the ones that men make simply for biological reasons,” he said.
“If a woman has a client base and has a child and takes two or three years off work, she is worth far less to the employer when she comes back than when she goes away because her client base cannot be stuck rigidly to her.”
He added that when he first started work in the City, it was a “deeply sexist” place.
But now, he said: “I don’t believe that in the big banks and brokerage houses and Lloyds of London and everyone else in the City, I do not believe there is any discrimination against women at all.
“I think that young, able women who are prepared to sacrifice the family life and stick with their careers do as well, if not better, than men.”
His comments were interpreted by some as negative, with Kirsty Ayre, a partner in the employment practice at international law firm Pinsent Masons, saying that the “notion that women are somehow intrinsically worth less to financial institutions as a result of having families is laughable”.
Meanwhile, Mr Farage is believed to have been hit over the head with a placard by a protester as he made his way into a hotel to meet supporters. Footage from ITV Meridian showed the South East MEP being shoved by a group waving placards outside at hotel in Cliftonville, Kent, yesterday.
After the incident, Mr Farage told the regional news channel that he hoped it would not become a regular occurrence.