Brightstar have terminated a lender from its panel citing ‘horrific sexism’ as the main reason.
The BridgeCrowd, a P2P secured bridging lender based in Manchester, have been cut from Brightstar’s panel after they released a sexualised advert (pictured) of a woman’s chest publicising their bridging loans starting at £25,000.
Clare Jupp, director of people development at Brightstar, said: “As an industry we are making great strides towards better gender representation and just today HM Treasury has announced that 350 organisations have now signed the Women in Finance Charter, covering some 800,000 financial services employees.
“As a business, we have committed a lot of time and energy towards the promotion of diversity and the Women in Finance Charter.
“We have a very clear idea of the direction in which we believe the industry should progress and we are working hard to achieve this.
“At Brightstar, we cannot reconcile our values with the vulgar and obsolete use of clumsy sexual innuendo included in this advert.
“It represents everything that we are working against and consequently, we have removed the lender from our panel.”
Marion Ellis, managing director at BlueBox Partners, added: “This is really disappointing to see. There is so much being done to eradicate this issue, and yet we continue to see these examples.
“In this industry, we have to start questioning what business do we want to be? We have to seriously think about corporate social responsibility and ethics in our industry, and that includes who we want to be associated with.
“I applaud Brightstar for this decision. The fact that this advert has gone through the approval process and no-one had the confidence to say anything about it is astonishing.
“It is one thing to it call out, but you need to take action.
“Unfortunately this is an example of how you do one thing, is how you do everything.”
Ashley Ilsen, chief executive and co-founder of Magnet Capital, commented: “Since I joined in the industry in 2012 I’ve seen our community make giant steps forwards in terms of our standards and practices.
“It really is a shame to see this because it drags us backwards and reflects poorly on all of us. Our whole community needs to adhere to higher standards going forward as there is simply no place for this.”
Jade Keval, head of sales at BridgeCrowd, defended the advert: “This advert was put out as tongue in cheek jest about needing something lower with an image of a woman’s top. I saw it before it went live and actually approved it.
“This advert has caused quite the uproar and it has been insinuated we are laughing in the face of women in finance, or equality. That is simply not true and that is not what we intended.
“I am a believer in woman’s rights – rights to have an equal opportunity in life and work. I am the proud employee of a company, which prides itself with equal opportunity.
“I head up a sales teams, which has more females than males. Our head of marketing is female. In fact, the whole office has more females than males.
“So did we miss the mark? When I saw this advert, I laughed. That advert was meant to be a jokey – tongue in cheek – retaliation to another lenders loan size.
“I am not the judge of what is right and wrong on the politically correct marketing compass. I just know my first reaction, as a woman, when viewing this was just a simple laugh and approval.
“If what I approved has genuinely caused offence to a woman (or man), then I am sorry for those to whom we caused offence.
“It was not my intention. In my opinion, I think we are way past thinking that a woman only has boobs and no brains. It is almost ironic.”