Photo: Embassy Kyiv Ukraine CC BY-ND 2.0

Dutch banks still have far to go to realise gender equality in both their internal operations and their client and investee relationships. This is the conclusion of a new study SOMO conducted for the Fair Bank Guide, on the performance of seven Dutch banks (ABN Amro, VolksbankASN Bank, SNS and RegioBank, ING, Rabobank, NIBC, Triodos Bank and Van Lanschot Kempen).

Gender equality in internal operations

  • The unadjusted gender pay gap in the financial sector is among the largest of all sectors of the Dutch economy and increasing (the difference in 2018 was 28 per cent).
  • Of the Dutch women working in the financial sector, 61 per cent works part-time (versus 18 per cent of Dutch men), leading them to lose in remuneration as a result.
  • Just two banks (the Volksbank and Triodos Bank) have taken steps towards facilitating a specific complaint process for sexual harassment and discrimination complaints, while none report on how they track and act on complaint findings.
  • Four banks (ABN Amro, NIBC and Van Lanschot Kempen) currently fail to meet the Dutch government’s target of having at least 30 per cent representation of women on all supervisory and executive boards.
  • None of the banks has a female CEO.

Client and investee due diligence

Banks spend little time and forethought addressing the wide array of harmful impacts related to their financing and investment relationships. The four case studies in this report show that these impacts can be significant. Firstly, they affect women as workers – such as sexual harassment on factory floors, insecure contracts, and exposure to chemicals harmful to maternal and foetal health. Secondly, they affect women as community members near extractives or infrastructure projects – including loss of land rights, disruption of jobs and social status, and exposure to increased prostitution, domestic violence, and sexually-transmitted diseases.

  • Only the Volksbank requires investees to set gender targets for their boards, and none of the banks issue similar requirements for senior management positions.
  • Only the Volksbank and Triodos Bank require clients and investees to establish a policy of zero tolerance towards gender discrimination.
  • Only Rabobank and Triodos Bank have taken some steps towards requiring clients and investees to establish policies on the recruitment and promotion of female employees.