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Young, white and male? You’re fired

As banks step up their redundancy programmes, will young white males with little recourse to discrimination legislation find themselves at the sharp end of job cuts?

“First we had to watch out for women, then ethnic minorities, then gay and transgender people, then disabled people – and now old white boys are suddenly playing the age discrimination card. It doesn’t leave us with many people to choose from,” says an MD at one US bank.

Linda Jackson, a director of Fairplace, which provides transition services to redundant bankers, says they’ve had “a couple” of Afro-Caribbeans coming to them from banks, but that most of the redundant bankers coming through their doors are young white males. She points out that this could, however, be because most banks are disproportionately staffed by white males aged less than 35.

An aversion to discrimination claims doesn’t appear to have been uppermost in the minds of all banks making job cuts. Charles Ferguson, of Ferguson Solicitors, says he’s currently representing a female CDO trader who was made redundant after she lost 24m. Her male boss was responsible for desks which lost 750m and is still in situ. “It just so happens that all the traders who lost their jobs were women and that the bank no longer has any senior female traders left,” Ferguson says.

But he adds that banks would be stupid not to be wary of cutting people who might claim discrimination: “It ups the ante enormously – you’re talking millions of pounds in compensation as opposed to a cap of 65k for an ordinary unfair dismissal case.”

In theory, people who are sacked because they’re easy targets can bring a reverse discrimination claim. In practice, this doesn’t happen. “These laws weren’t passed to protect white males,” mulls Ferguson.

Comments (49)

  1. While I recognise that there may be genuine cases of unfair dismissal in the City, I do feel that there is a growing minority of people whose ignorance of the fundamental principles of economics combined with a lack of common sense leads them to naively think they can hide their incompetence behind industrial relations laws.

    The filing of vexatious litigation that we see in the City serves to illustrate the saying of ‘biting the hand that feeds you’. If you haven’t performed, then you quite rightly should be dismissed. The fact that you may have a family or financial obligations is irrelevant. Suppose financial firms did not sack those who were underperforming, be it due to either incompetence or too many mistakes. The firm continues to lose money as the these underperforming teams and individuals continue to erode the profit of the firm. Eventually, if no corrective measures are taken, the company will find itself in a position where rather than having to lay off 10 under performing staff, they now face the very real prospect of laying off ten times as many just to keep the department solvent. After all, it may well be those who are left who secure you your future role.

  2. As a Black man who was made redundant and with ethnic minority friends in the same position, I’m not sure I buy this story at all. I think Linda Jackson’s theory more accurately describes what’s going on.

  3. Majority of the employees in Investment Banking are white and male as it is. So obviously you will see greater white make employees being sacked.

    I feel this article is just stupid and has a racist element to it as it trying to suggest that banks don’t want to sack employees that are black or brown from the fear of being taken to court on the ground of being racist.

    If your sacked just admit it either you were rubbish at your job or that bank is just cutting down in staff and it was your unlucky day.

  4. I am not a white male but not working at the moment either. As Linda Jackson states the workplace particularly in the City is staffed by young white males. Stories like this are a little sparks flaming the fire of the right wing politics that has experienced a surge in popularity in Europe generally… pasting headlines such as “Young, white and male? You’re fired” does not help anyone.

    The economy is experiencing a downturn, oil is at $140, property market is slowing down, etc… playing the blame game is not going to help anyone!

    I thought this was a jobsite not a political forum, very disappointed that this story is even one here!

  5. my job is very safe.

    Joan Armatrading Reply
  6. Most people are just desk-jockeys who’ll be chucked out with the rubbish as the downturn accelerates. Jobs were being given away with the corflakes when times were good. Even traders, who supposedly kept their jobs as they made money, are being turfed out. If they were genuinely good they could stay and bring in the cash. Unfortunately, like most office workers, they sit around and feed of others around them and take the glory – and bonuses. Now they’re being found out and being rightly culled.

    I can only imagine the shear terror at realising that you’ve been making a good salary just for attending an office for the last few years and now a letter’s going around telling of the lack of business leading to layoffs.

    Complacency kills…

  7. I’m a young white male in the city.. and just got canned. Would like to believe this articlue (as it would make me feel better) but the other people in my team who got canned included a turkish lady and an indian lady…no lawsuit for me then.

  8. What an utterly pathetic article. Completely unhelpful and making wrong assumptioms. White males might be more often fired because they make up the majority of bankers in the first place. Add to that that in my opinion ethnic minorities can have a much better work ethic, particularly Indians and Chinese, and its of little surprise white men are being particularly laid off. Its because they’re in the majority as it stands and perhaps less committed and hardworking, nothing to do with arbitrary discrimination cases.

  9. jesus christ. maybe that’s because the city mostly HIRES young white males.

    someone give the author a basic intro to probability.

    louis bachelier Reply
  10. An awful, awful article that doesn’t help anyone.

  11. I am gonna be gay starting from tomorrow 9.00 GMT.

    last man standing Reply
  12. About time to, I’m fed up with banks hiring staff because they are white and the hiring manager feels he can better relate to them over a drink than a black person or a woman? This is always the time when the most useless employee’s gets canned. I for one hope they lay many more off and hire people for their skill rather if they when to the right skills or black, mixed or gender?

    It’s the older generation who still have the controls on who gets hired and that is a shame that the younger managers have no t got guts to stand up and be counted??

  13. Obviously the author should write for the Sun or the Evening Standard – “Title should be controversial and have nothing to do with the facts”. You should get a job with the tabloids lady.. its working and you are getting responses!

    Asian and was canned Reply
  14. excellent comments above… If there was empirical evidence of whites being terminated in huge numbers then maybe we’d have something to chat huddle around the coffee shop about, but there’s nothing here… Fact is the hot (banking) markets are in Ethnic (EM) nations, so many International firms are loathe to lay off producers in those countries – make sense.

    Permanently Tan Reply
  15. what a a silly article. It is a simple matter of statistics? I think you will find that banks are predominantly run by white males. Hence is it not comensurate to find that a signifcant amount will lose their jobs in an economic down turn? To extrapolate even further I find the article non- useful and provocative?

  16. I think this article is deeply disturbing and likely to stir up racial hatred. I am a female asian woman and have just been fired by a top tier bank. Contrary to what this article suggests it is not easy to bring a legal claim against a bank, you need solid proof. I was physically attacked at work by a senior banker witnessed by many people in my team, but naturally no one in the bank supported me against him and some even when as far as suggesting I was in some way asking for it. I did not claim sexual or racial discrimination, I think bad things happen to people in banking and it gets swept under the carpet whether you are a minority or not. I don’t think HR would have helped me any more if I was white and male or if I was (in addition to being an asian woman) gay or disabled. The only people who win in banking is the senior bankers who make a lot of money for the bank, if you are junior you are expendable no matter whether you are white or a minority

  17. Banks fear nothing more than the race relations industry when it comes to firing people. The claims that can be made are unlimited, potentially in the millions. White men are capped at 50K, its a fact (unless anyone thinks white men can claim discrimination based on their Race – it happens but few Judges would buy this argument I suggest). I am amused how quickly people attack the idea that White males might face discrimination in Britain, of course they can and do. Diversity is a kind of discrimination against White males. Of course White males have many of the jobs in banking, there are so many of us in Britain and Europe that want to work in this industry and are prepared to study hard to get in and work the hours necessary to be there too.

  18. i cannot even believe that this article was published in efinancialcareers! one would expect more quality of articles during this recession. Your racist overtones and implications are no different from that of Bush’s discrimination against immigrants, who, in fact, have helped the US economy rather than exacerbate it. The reason why young white males are being canned is because 1) they are the majority 2) due to #1, maybe they played a large role in contributing to this crisis, so maybe it’s called reaping what they sowed? 3) they get paid and promoted the most, so in terms of cost cutting, who else would institutions sack? Please think deeply before you write. In any case, young white males haven’t been the only ones fired as evidence by other commentators of this article.

  19. This has Happened to a much greater scale in South Africa, so I don’t know why everybody is complaining. White males in South Africa has less rights than a dog. Live with it, it is your own fault.

  20. this is a really desparate article.

  21. a well balanced article and yes young white men are the easiest to fire.

  22. Sounds like another article written by/ influenced by lawyers who represent corporates rather than employees. I wonder if there is another high profile case in the pipeline they are trying to undermine…. It overlooks the fact that to win a court case you need very strong evidence of sexual/racial discrimination, ideally in writing. If you just get verbal abuse, it is very difficult to prove and don’t expect your colleagues to act as witnesses to support you, many will have very short term memories…. Face it if you are in banking you expect to take a lot of abuse, winning in court or out of court is not as easy as these articles suggest!

  23. this article is TRUE TRUE TRUE. of course, people have to object. it must be that their political correctness is on auto-pilot.

  24. It always makes me laugh when I read articles like this and the assumption that if you’re canned you’ve a good chance of screwing bundles out of your firm for unfair dismissal. A few years back I was made redundant . The company was in clear breach of contract. I took my case to a top contracts lawyer and he 100% agreed with my sentiments but advised me not to sue because: a) It’d be a high court case and as such would take 9mths to a year to go to trial. b) Even if I won chances are they’d appeal so another anxious wait. c) If I lost the case the costs would be such that I’d have to sell my house to pay them. And d) I’d never work in the City again.

    I took the redundancy money and ran.

    Fact is that most companies can outspend any disgruntled ex-employee so litigation is actually quite rare.

  25. To Efinancial: How about writing some informative articles, which would give people a better idea about the obstacles employees are likely to face if they brought a claim, rather than writing yet another sensationalised article which stirs up ignorance and resentment!

  26. A pathetic article full of nothing. Pick up a book on probability.

    This newletter getting more and more flashy headlines, followed by empty content. Another collateral of the credit crunch?

    Next month : Paris Hilton and Britney Spears show some skin.

  27. Any of you ever worked anywhere near the evil HR? Of course there’s more than a grain of truth here. The evil HR is soooo careful to avoid litigation, and unfortunately, over the years, people with any toehold whatsoever have forced the issue.

    This young white male trend was apparent in 2001, and is screaming out now. And it’s not to do with the volume.

    Wake up! You all live in the real world, with real issues!

  28. Linda Jackson’s comments are nonsense bordering offensive. My first question to her would be, has she ever worked in any investment banks or even been to one? Probably not. My second question would be what are the numbers of white employees vs afro carribbean employees? She should then do the maths and discover for herself that the majority of employees are white, male and young as she puts it, so surprise, surprise it’s very likely that the majority of those unfortunately being made redundant are likely to be white, male and young. It’s really very simple. She should have concentrated more on her maths lessons on probability at school before making such bold inaccurate conclusions to find someone to blame. Her comments shouldn’t be published. Absolute rubbish.

  29. what utter nonsense

  30. What a ridiculous article . It has just added to the stupidity, victim fantasy and general absurdity in the world.
    People get fired. Especially now. Please grow up

  31. It is rididulous to suggest HR are careful to avoid litigation by minorities. In reality, HR go after anyone who is less valuable to the bank in any dispute. HR do not support minorities any more than they would support young, white male bankers. The way HR avoid litigation is by trying to run up an employees legal costs and refusing to comply with Subject Access Requests, so the employee has no chance of obtaining any real evidence of wrong doing by the bank.

    I am concerned this article is trying to turn employees against employees, rather than addressing whether employers have a fair system in place for all employees. It is the employers who who should be held accountable. Efinancial should not be encouraging gay bashing and fueling racial hatred!

    Shocked and appalled Reply
  32. This is not big news – young white males have been the most discriminated group for years!
    Despite being as capable as anyone else, we are often treated unfairly because, as this article highlights, we have little recourse against discrimination.
    It’s about time this ‘negative discrimination’ was highilghted and someting done about it!

    talented young white male Reply
  33. WOW!!! The British National Party are definitely gaining strength with the support of these types of articles by Efinancial!

    Liberal banker Reply
  34. i see nothing wrong with this article. i have worked in the city for 23 years and have sat in meetings where it has been decided to let white males go rather than face up to the consequences of making an ethnic minority person redundant. having said that, not all ethnic, gay, disables folk are up litigious…but there are a few toxic ones out there who have made a career of suing employers for financial gain by using the minority card.

  35. Efinancial seem to have stirred up a lot of trouble here with people who probably don’t know anything about UK Employment Law. It is not easy to “play the minority card” you need strong evidence which would stand up in court. Many litigants run out of money and never obtain legal redress against a bank with deep pockets.

    It would help if Efinancial wrote more factual articles which would allow employees to assess the merits of any inflammatory claims!

    Employment lawyer Reply
  36. I am very disappointed with Efinancial Careers. This article has no real evidence to back up its headline. Its just an eye-catching headline to get people to read it – which is all well and good, but this isnt a tabloid paper! What happened to actually providing useful news and information?! This type of article just adds to stereotypes we have of each other and causes divisions and suspicion in the workplace.

    If a company fires somebody based on their performance at work (and not their colour, age or sex,) then they have nothing to worry about. Its common sense and its the way it should be in a civilised society.

  37. In South Africa it is law that a white male be hired last out of 7 race/gender/disability classifications. Black males and females top the list of candidates that must be hired first if there is the option. As a white male it is flat out sickening.

  38. It would be helpful in the difficult times that many city workers face if efinancials would publish something that would help. The article from the outset is angling to stir up ill feeling and its a sad indictment of efinancials that they would even think about publishing such drivel and only highlights in my opinion, what an unprofessional organisation efinancials must be. The fact that the city is heading for a deep downturn with hardworking city folk being put out of a job and efinancials takes it upon itself to publish this nonsense is shocking. I am white male, I have friends from all walks of life who work hard and play by the rules. Reading this article was a complete shock, for the fact that there is no substance to it whatsoever. The suggestion that white males will be sacked becuase they’re an easy target is laughable. If you call yourself a journalist; Sarah Butcher stick to the golden rules of journalism. Here goes; 1) make sure the issue really exists 2) research don’t guess 3) when writing about a conflict situation talk to all parties and last but not least; LEARN WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. Hopefully this will help you publish better material.

  39. Freedom of expression is something we all cherish but maybe some kind of self restraint should be considered and not just publish anything just for the sake of getting more people checking out the website!

    How long will it take some extremist to just spread around such nonsense? Thank you for just giving the NAZI party its next “substantial evidence” from a “reliable source”

    We all know we are facing tough times and people all around the world are getting laid off: it s got nothing to do with race and gender. As one said” its the economics, stupid!”.

    I do consider that this website should consider every single article before publishing: this is what we call “responsibility”.

  40. Not being funny guys and girls but there seems to be a lot of responses to the article in office hours….obviously no fear of the old tin-tack with you people. Sh1t…the boss is headed my way….signing off…bye!

  41. What is all this self-righteous rambling from people criticising the article (and author); accusations of poor journalism, racism… unbelievable!

    Sometimes the truth hurts and, as many academics will tell you: question the popular wisdom.

    Sarah quite clearly has a point. It’s not what people want to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. This has been an issue for a sevarl years now, perhaps not a major one, but an issue nevertheless. It’s not just in the employment market either.

    People need to be more objective, and not so willing to blindly criticise Sarah, and the content of the website. If you find it so objectionable, go elsewhere!

    P . S . i’m not a white male.

  42. What goes around, comes around. Does it matter what sex, colour, creed or orientation anyone is. So you get the chop, okay there are plenty of jobs around, even if it means you have to move. The basic fact is that most people employed in this capacity are young, male and white, consequently there will be more of them who get sacked.
    If you get the sack, will it kill you? No.
    If you work in the military, will it kill you? Possibly!
    Put life into perspective guys.
    I have been though numerous redundancy waves over the years, and yes I have been chopped several times, butI am still here doing the bizz.

  43. Kumee,

    While I value your perspective, the point many people are making on this site is that the author is making a statement of opinion, not fact backed up by empirical evidence. What is dangerous is when people start accepting it as factually true and having a go at other people on that basis! I think it is quite inappropriate for a professional publication like Efinancial to act so irresponsibly.

    I’m a white male and have many friends from minority groups and I certainly don’t like this type of journalism.

  44. Well easy guys and girls,racism sexism etc are still a given in the City and even though Efinancials went a bit overboard publishing this article;it all stands 2 reason that the city which employs a large proportion of young white males, that people from this bracket will be affected when the redundancy axe is hovering in the City and before people start bashing, please highlight any knowledge of or statistics of any ethnic minority, disabled,female persons who are not in this bracket that are majority; I think not..We only need to look at the highest management levels in the City to see that these posts are mostly populated by white males so it only stands to reason that they would recruit young carbon-copies/clones of themselves…….

    Moving on,whether one is hit by redundancy or not, the key thing is moving on with life and making the best of the situation especially if one finds themselves suddenly without a job;this is not the US where others apart from young while males are embraced warmly in the city but there is hope for the UK someday; the key word is not giving up….

  45. Funny this article was published by Efinancial careers but my comment on (Guest comment: Don’t diss the headhunter) was edited when I mentioned a personal experience of ghost job posting by recruitment agencies talk of a case of being 2faced…..

  46. Having a background in law, I am always interested when publications like Efinancial publish this type of article. I’ve noticed they never give the reader an indication of obvious sources of bias by the author/interviewees eg whether the lawyers interviewed are retained to defend employers or whether they represent employees. Typically these articles are written by lawyers defending banks in an attempt to discourage employees from using new legislation put in place to protect their Employment Law rights.
    Given the current state of the market, it is probable that many banks are facing a higher number of claims by whites and minorities. Employers are in a very strong position, it is fairly easy for them to show they have followed a fair procedure to dismiss an employee – in contrast, it is extremely hard for an employee to prove breach of their rights. Therefore, why shouldn’t an employer have to satisfy an employee they have been selected for redundancy using a fair procedure? The onus should be on the employer to prove they have nothing to hide. This article is a good strategy by employers to discourage a segment of potential litigants by branding them “toxic minorities”

    Mary (white female) Reply
  47. Having read this article and the accompanying comments, I think the basic premise that young, white males are not protected by employment legislation is fundamentally flawed. Minorities are not automatically protected by virtue of being gay, black, disable etc. They have to show they were treated less favourably than colleagues due to their sexual preference /ethnicity/ disability. This is not an easy standard of proof – a court may require written evidence where managers have made direct reference to this characteristic to deny the employee promotion etc. Many cases never make it to court because the employee’s solicitor advises they would not have enough evidence to build a case against an employer. Equally if a young, white male has evidence that they have been treated less favourably than their peers due to their age, colour, gender they would also have a case. In practice, we don’t hear of many cases by this group because it is far less likely you will be passed over for promotion because you are white or because you are male – although it is more likely you may have some detriment if you are too young but equally as qualified as another older employee!

  48. The article ought to be taken down. At best it’s ignorant, at worst racist.

  49. South Africa is a special case. the whites are last of the preference list because their parents and grand parents were benefocioaries of the racist policy of apartheid which ensured that they were guaranteed education, jobs, training, promotion and higher remuneration SOLELY on the basis of being white. Subsequently their older white family members benifited and thus acquired significant assets through employment that exploited blacks!!! So for equlaity to reign, the previously disadvantaged groups needed help from the states because the white owned firms and universities were still not prepared to allow the blacks into their schools and businesses. I lived in South Africa for 4 years, both as a banker and as a post-grad student at Stellenbosch. I nkow what I am talking about! – don’t go there!!

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