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Liberal MP criticises blokey banks culture

AAP logoAAP 5/10/2016 Jennifer Rajca

The only woman on federal parliament's house economics committee has taken the ANZ boss to task over "blokey" bank culture, pointing to her own struggle to get a home loan.

New Liberal MP Julia Banks questioned Shayne Elliott's commitment to the group Male Champions of Change during a hearing into the four big banks in Canberra on Wednesday.

"Have you taken on the mantle of your predecessor Mike Smith who was a member of the group," she asked the chief executive who took over at the start of the year.

"Yes," he replied.

"What does that mean to you," she asked.

Mr Elliott said he was committed to having an open, transparent and diverse workforce where everyone had a fair go.

"I take the Male Champions of Change pretty seriously."

About 40 per cent of senior leadership roles are held by women, he noted.

"Not enough of the most senior roles, but we have seen significant improvement in that in the last couple of years."

Ms Banks, who won the Melbourne seat of Chisholm from Labor at July federal election, asked the bank boss whether he had read her first speech to parliament.

The former lawyer, who discussed gender equality in her speech, wondered whether Mr Elliott could say from his "heart of hearts" female customers were treated as fairly as male customers.

"This idea that the entire bank has a blokey culture, frankly I reject that," he replied.

"Overwhemingly, branches are run by very, very good women."

Ms Banks recalled a story she shared in her speech about applying for her first home loan.

"A general manager, smarmy, smirkly ... said that he would only factor into account my husband's income because I was a married woman of child-bearing age even though I was a fully qualified junior corporate lawyer."

Mr Elliott agreed with Ms Banks it was a good idea for banks to train all staff to be aware unconscious bias - a bias one is unaware of - particularly when they're dealing with female customers.

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