Meaningless glamour is no bonus for banking world

The decision by Barclays to boost its finances with an investment from Qatar and Abu Dhabi rather than leave itself in thrall of the Government has offered an unexpected boon for an unlikely party.

As well as securing the super-salary structure of its executives, the move has also given the hard-pressed picture editor a gilt-edged opportunity to introduce a bit of ‘totty’ to the usual grey matter of the business pages.

Not only is deal-broker Amanda Staveley rather easy on the eye (you may recall her profile went supersonic on the back of the deal to bring the oil sheikhs to Manchester City) but of course there is also Diana Jenkins, the glamorous wife of Barclays’ highly paid Middle East executive Roger Jenkins, who, one would imagine looking at the coverage in this weekend’s newspapers, is clearly absolutely central to this entire deal.

Now Mrs Staveley undoubtedly is central to this story but the prevalence of Mrs Jenkins’ image (she’s friends with Cindy Crawford apparently) accompanying this story is symptomatic of wider issue that has long bedevilled the business pages – namely an assumption that they are read solely by men.

The reality is that the majority of those reading this now and the business sections over the weekend will boast an Adam’s Apple and a draw full of Y-fronts but the make-up of the business community is changing daily and at some point the old assumptions have got to change.

If we continue to illustrate business stories with scantily clad women – often with the most tenuous of links to the subject matter – then surely we are only paying lip-service to wider aspirations of equality within the business community itself – a fact that would seem to be bourne out by the gender make up of our city’s board rooms.

In a number of sectors there are some extremely powerful women but far too often you hear that their secret to success is by being one of the boys. Of course this is not true in every case but there is no denying that testosterone is still the over-riding factor for success in business.

On the grand scale of things, putting an end to gratuitous pictures of women on the business pages will barely register in the ongoing battle for true equality in our society but at the very least it may allow us to comment on such issues without exposing ourselves to accusations of hypocrisy.

The alternative is of course equally liberal smatterings of men in their underwear but I’m not sure the business community is quite ready for that either.