Berlin, 07 March 2019 – To commemorate International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, Facing Finance is calling on German banks to consider the gender-specific consequences of their financing and investments.
German banks have already taken the first steps to counter the discrimination and disadvantage of women in their own banks. “However, large banks in particular have not introduced any review processes to check the negative effects of their financing or investment decisions on women,” criticises Sarah Guhr, project manager at Facing Finance. She refers to the massive investments of German banks in mining companies and the arms sector*, two sectors that have become noticeable due to their serious impact, especially on women.
Women often suffer from a lack of security and compensation from mining companies, which also rarely provide women with access to complaint mechanisms and alternative sources of income. Barrick Gold’s mines in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea, for example, have in the past experienced serious cases of violence, particularly sexual violence. While many of the victims are chronically ill as a result, Barrick Gold’s compensation payments are not sufficient to compensate for these long-term effects. Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and DZ Bank, among others, are investing in the Canadian mining company.
Women and children suffer particularly from the consequences of armed conflicts,” Thomas Küchenmeister, Managing Director of Facing Finance, commented, referring to the wars that have been going on for years in Syria or Yemen, where women often have to pay for their families on their own. Concern for children and their families and the constant threat of armed groups and attacks in many cases lead to traumatic physical and psychological stress, flight and displacement. “Nevertheless, the major German banks continue to finance arms exporters who deliver to war zones – despite the devastating human rights effects,” says Küchenmeister.
Facing Finance urges financial institutions to meet their responsibility for gender equality in their business more extensively. For this to be possible, Banks need to develop guidelines that take into account the negative impact of individual companies on women.
There is also some work to be done at the operational level. The number of women in management positions at large German banks is still very low and only at Commerzbank and KfW does it exceed just under one third. In 8 out of 10 of the largest German banks, the proportion is still well below 30%.
Some studies suggest that a higher proportion of women in leading positions leads to improved corporate transparency and sustainability. In order to support the further development of this important topic, the topic of “gender equality” will be integrated into the new update of the Fair Finance Guide coordinated by Facing Finance as of May 2019.
A background paper with more detailed information on the gender-specific effects of the arms and mining sector can be downloaded here1.
If you have any questions or would like an interview, please contact us:
Thomas Küchenmeister I FACING FINANCE
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* The study “Dirty Profits 6 – Mining and Extractive Companies: Promises and Progress”((http://www.facing-finance.org/files/2018/05/DP6_ONLINEXVERSION.pdf)), published in May 2018, provides detailed information on the financial relations of European banks with mining companies and their negative impact on human rights. The report “Dirty Profits – Unser Geld für Rüstungsexporte in Kriegs- und Krisengebiete”2 (Dirty Profits – Our Money for Arms Exports to War and Crisis Areas), also published in 2018 by Facing Finance together with urgewald, shows the financing and investments of German banks in arms manufacturers, in particular those supplying the Gulf Alliance for the Yemen War.