A woman financier has accused the private bank Coutts of being an ‘exclusive gentlemen’s club’ in a £400,000 sex discrimination claim.

The employee has claimed that a ‘glass ceiling’ meant she was the only senior woman out of almost 50 executives in the bank’s commercial department and that she was repeatedly blocked from promotion to director level because of ‘unspoken sexism’.

Its own gender pay gap figures show that women staff earn more than a quarter less than men on average and the employee is seeking £400,000 from the bank for gender discrimination, equal pay and victimisation. She had a basic salary of just over £60,000, plus a bonus of between £7,000 and £10,000.

Her testimony focused on the treatment she received, amounting to “tokenism” in that she felt she was invited to meetings to ensure that there was a female present. The hearing was told that she increased the revenue she generated for the bank from £850,000 in 2011 to £2.5million last year – but that she believed there was a ‘glass ceiling’ in the commercial department which prevented her from receiving promotion.

The bank have claimed that her performance did not justify promotion but the employee claimed that she had been told privately that she had been overlooked because her “face doesn’t fit”. A judgment is expected shortly.

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