Appointment of Branch Managers after the Second World War

After the cessation of hostilities in 1945, a large number of male staff returned to Birmingham expecting to resume their careers with the Bank. Although there was no issue relating to the re-employment of the returning servicemen, concerns were soon being expressed by the male staff in relation to the appointment to the position of Branch Manager. During the War, the severe shortage of male staff resulted in the appointment of a number of Lady Branch Managers.
The policy of appointing ladies as branch managers was not wholly reversed in 1945, and in the following year three ladies who had held the position on a temporary basis during the War were appointed as permanent managers. This new policy of the Bank's Committee of Management became the subject of correspondence between the Staff Committee, the Municipal Officers' Guild, and the Bank's management. Some of this correspondence has survived in the Bank's archives and is reproduced below. During this period the Bank's General Manager changed from J P Hilton to H Carver.
Despite the case presented by the Staff Committee, and the involvement of the Municipal Officers' Guild (the 'Trade Union' for the Corporation's salaried employees) the appointment of the three Lady Branch Managers was not rescinded.
[1] February 28th 1946: Staff Committee to J P Hilton (General Manager)

Dear Sir

Appointments of Branch Managers


The position regarding promotion of both Male and Female Members of the Staff has for some time now given rise to many rumours and conjectures.


The Staff Committee are of the opinion that the present state of uncertainty in the mind of the Staff is harmful to the interests of the Bank and Staff alike. Accordingly they have instructed me to ask you whether you could give a written statement on the following points:-


(i) The present policy of the Bank Committee regarding appointments of Branch Managers


(ii) Whether such policy applies to the Male or Female Staff or both.


The Committee feels that such a statement from you would be helpful to all members of the Staff particularly those who have recently returned from service with the Forces.


Yours faithfully

D Whetnall

Secretary, Staff Committee
[2] March 8th 1946: J P Hilton (General Manager) to Staff Committee
[3] April 1st 1946: The Municipal Officers' Guild to Staff Committee
[4] May 7th 1946: General Manager (H Carver) to Staff Committee

[5] May 23rd 1946: From Staff Committee to The Municipal Officers' Guild


Dear Sir


The B'ham Municipal Bank Staff Committee have learnt, after enquiring, that three women have just been appointed as Branch Managers.


The Staff Committee, which consists of four women and seven men have considered the matter and have passed the following resolution for which all the members voted save one who abstained:-

Resolved: "That this Committee is of the opinion that the appointment of women Branch Managers, at the present time, is prejudicial to the interests of the male members of the Staff, is contrary to the City Council's express wish to safeguard the interests of men serving with H. M. Forces and therefore such appointments should be reconsidered."


This Resolution was brought to the notice of the Bank Committee and we were requested to appoint three members of our Committee to meet members of the Bank Committee. At the meeting we obtained no satisfaction.


I am therefore directed to advise you of the circumstances and to request the Guild to consider the matter and take whatever action they think necessary. The reasons for our action are set out briefly below.


In 1937 the enclosed letter marked 'A' was circulated to all male members of the Bank Staff who were not Branch Managers. Previous to the appointment of the three women Branch Managers the staff had received no notification that the Committee policy had been changed.


For many year before the war the Committee have insisted on men obtaining the professional qualification mentioned and for failing to pass some of these examinations some men have had increases withheld, some have been reduced, for a period of years, from Branch Managers to lower grades with consequent reduction of salary. Some have been dismissed.


The Committee have now appointed three women as Branch Managers who have not obtained the qualifications the Committee have said they require. They have now advised us of twelve men who will be appointed Branch Manager when all the men have returned from the forces but apart from these twelve there are still many qualified men who have been serving and have been overlooked. Some of these men have now returned and some will be returning shortly.


I set out below the qualifications of six of these men who have not been appointed and there are others.         


            CASE              Completed                          EXAMINATION

                                   years of service                   QUALIFICATION                  MARRIED

              A                         19                                               YES                                YES

               B                         20                                               YES                                YES

               C                         19                                               YES                                YES

               D                         18                                               YES                                 NO

               E                         17                                               YES                                YES

               F                          16                                               YES                                YES


These men feel that the appointments of the women arose out of conditions brought about by the war and that the women have thereby obtained an advantage at the expense of men who have been away serving. They consider that an emphatic protest should be made.


My Committee also think that the appointment of unqualified women in preference to qualified men does not constitute equality of opportunity for which NALGO has been pressing and also is contrary to the spirit of Clause 28 of the Whitley Charter.


Should you desire any further information on this matter I will do my best to help.


Yours faithfully 

D Whetnall 

Secretary, Staff Committee