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Researchers see double standard for women brokers

One of the country’s largest brokerage firms reacts to misconduct by its brokers very differently depending on the gender of those brokers, at least according to conclusions from the adversarial journalism publication The Intercept.

Although male brokers cost the firm significantly more in settlements, their careers suffered much less than women brokers whose misconduct harmed the firm less.

The Intercept’s recently published investigation builds on the work of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nearly 100-year-old organization with funding from some of the world’s largest corporations.

Women’s less-costly settlement record

According to The Intercept, the 25 largest settlements against female brokers at Wells Fargo Advisors cost the brokerage firm $7.0 million during the decade ending in 2015.

In contrast, the 25 largest settlements against male brokers in that decade cost the company more than ten times as much, or $73.1 million.

The Intercept’s investigation suggests that women brokers were the subjects of fewer customer disputes and actions by regulators and incurred lower settlement costs for the company than their male counterparts. The average settlement against male brokers was nearly $229,000 while settlements against female brokers was less than half that amount, at almost $114,000.

Women punished more harshly for less misconduct

In response, none of the men involved in these 25 largest settlements were fired for their costly misconduct, whereas three of the women brokers were terminated after their relatively less damaging settlements.

Gender disparities also appeared throughout the industry, according to the numbers studied by both The Intercept and the NBER. Of 44 brokerage firms included in the studied, women resigned or were fired almost 10 percent more often than men after findings of misconduct. At Wells Fargo Advisors, however, that gender gap was 30 percent.

The gender gap didn’t end with termination, according to The Intercept. Moving on to another company in the industry after being terminated or resigning at Well Fargo Advisors was easier for men, 59 percent of whom did not find more work in the industry. For women, 75 percent never worked for the industry again.

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