MILLARS BANK LTD
Astrid Viphakone-Lamache 25
• Company: Millars Bank Ltd
• Mrs Janet Louise MARSH, Loan Officer
• Mr. P.D. SMOTHERS, Bank manager, Abu Dhabi
• W.T.R. DUNCAN, Vice-President, International Banking London
• John PHILLIPS, Bank manager, Cairo (ex Mrs Marsh supervisor)
• Date: August 1994
• Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
• She replaces Mr. Mathers as loan officer in Millars Bank
• She arrived the 1st August 1994 for assignment 15th
• Mrs Marsh and Mr. Smothers first met the day she
arrived in Smother’s office
Mr. Smothers didn’t expect J.L Marsh to be a woman.
• 18th July 1994 : Fax from Duncan to Smothers (Ex 1)
• 1st August 1994: Dialogue between Smothers and Marsh
• 2nd August 1994 : Series of faxes between Smothers and
Duncan (Ex 2)
• 2nd August 1994 : Letter from Marsh to Smothers (Ex 4)
• CV of Janet Louise Marsh (Ex3)
Exhibit 1: Fax from W. T. R. Duncan, Vice-President, International
Banking, Millars Bank, London, to Smothers
DATE: 18 July 1994
TO: P. SMOTHERS
FM: W. DUNCAN
RE: REPLACEMENT OFFICER
J. L. MARSH, REPLACEMENT FOR MATHERS, ARRIVING 1 AUG FOR ASSIGNMENT
15 AUG. MARSH FORMERLY CORPORATE LOAN OFFICER, BEIRUT AND CAIRO.
FLUENT ARABIC. HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL IN FORMER POSITIONS. CREDITED WITH
EXPANDING CAIRO LOAN OPERATIONS BY 30%. SHOULD BE ABLE TO ASSUME
EXTENSIVE DUTIES IN MINIMUM TIME. PLEASE REPLY UPON MARSH ARRIVAL.
Smothers: Miss Marsh, I frankly don't know what to say. I would
have thought, with your obvious knowledge of the Middle East, that you
would have disqualified yourself from this position.
Marsh: Mr. Smothers, I understand what you're trying to tell
me, but I really don't see that we have a problem. Believe it or not, when I
was first transferred to Cairo five years ago, John, John Phillips, the
manager there, had very much the same reservations you have today.
Smothers: I know John. Know him very well.
Marsh: Well, it worked out beautifully.
Smothers: But, Egypt is not Abu Dhabi. Egypt is progressive, very
liber-al, women are acknowledged as professionals. But in the Emirates .
Marsh: You don't want me to stay.
Smothers: It's not me. Please understand that I would be
delighted to have you stay. But, but, I can't imagine, Miss Marsh, how you
could do your job. Our clients are conservative, traditional. They expect
their principal loan officer to be a man. They won't do business with us.
They won't take us seriously.
Marsh: Why not?
Smothers: They just won't. It's simply not done. Unheard of, even.
Marsh: With all due respect, I think you're vastly mistaken.
Marsh: That's right. Mistaken. Our clients come to our bank to
borrow pounds in order to finance projects that must be paid in pounds.
Nothing more, nothing less. What they are looking for is a loan officer who
can place their loan at a competitive interest rate and in short order. Isn't
Dialogue between Smothers and Marsh
Smothers: Yes. And no.
Marsh: Why no?
Smothers: Miss Marsh, you've been in corporate banking long
enough to realize that personal relations between a client and a lending
institution are vitally important. I, I can't see how our clients could, would
relate to you. And we're not the only bank in town either. Why, just in Abu
Dhabi alone there are at least two dozen foreign banks with whom we are
in direct competition, not to mention the other two dozen Emirate-owned
banks plus all the other foreign banks with represen-tatives on restricted
licenses who also can occasionally take business away from us.
Marsh: Mr. Smothers, I am well aware of competition and the
role of the loan officer. I am so well aware, in fact, that I feel that I can be
as effective, or more effective, than I was in Beirut and Cairo. I
understand the Middle East. I've lived here for many years. I speak, read,
and write Arabic. I know the customs, the religion, the history, and, most
importantly, the business of business. How many other loan officers are
fluent in Arabic?
Smothers: Not many. I'm not even myself. But that has not been a
Marsh: Has it been an advantage?
Smothers: No, I can't say that either.
Marsh: Besides, Mr. Smothers, let me remind you that this is a
British bank, not an Arab bank and . . .
Smothers: But a British bank in an Arab country.
Exhibit 2: Texts of a Series of Faxes Sent Back and Forth from
Smothers to Duncan
Fax from Smothers to Duncan:
JANET MARSH ARRIVED YESTERDAY. HAVE SERIOUS DOUBTS AS TO HER
ABILITY TO PERFORM DUTIES ADEQUATELY GIVEN STRONG TRADITIONAL ARAB
CULTURE HERE. PLEASE ADVISE ASAP.
Fax from Duncan to Smothers:
PLS CLARIFY MESSAGE RE MARSH.
Fax from Smothers to Duncan:
CLARIFICATION REGARDING JANET MARSH: FEEL ARABS WILL NOT DEAL WITH
WOMAN LOAN OFFICER. EMIRATES VERY TRADITIONAL, NOT ACCUSTOMED TO
FEMALES IN BUSINESS. COULD SERIOUSLY JEOPARDIZE OPERATIONS. PLEASE
Exhibit 4: Letter from Marsh to Smothers
Dear Mr. Smothers:
In relation to our conversation of yesterday, I feel some further clarification of my position is desirable.
Let me assure you, first, that I did not apply for this position in order to create a “test” case regarding the employment of
women in executive positions in the Arab world. It is simply that the qualifications posted for the position were ideally
suited to my talents.
Let me also assure you that I gave considerable thought to the possible complications involved, but I felt, and still feel,
that my own administrative skills are sufficient to overcome objections that arise initially from our predominantly Arab
clientele. My positions in both Beirut and Cairo have taught me much about how to proceed in the Middle East, and I
trust I can draw on those lessons to ensure a smooth and speedy transition from Cairo to Abu Dhabi.
In Cairo I worked with a number of Saudi clients and, in general, had friendly and excellent relationships with them.
Although they were certainly traditional in their social views, I found them to be extremely progressive in their business
outlook. This progressive viewpoint extended to our client/banker relationship, where I was seen as “a banker”. Their
attitude was quite clearly one of financial pragmatism, i.e., if Millars employed me in such a position, I must be qualified.
Additional anecdotes abound; however, in most of them “financial pragmatism” was more important than “cultural
tradition”. Had I been an Arab woman, things might have been different, but as an Englishwoman working for an English
bank, I have been allowed to stand outside the “cultural tradition”.
In conclusion, Mr. Smothers, I simply urge you to grant me the opportunity to serve Millars Bank in Abu Dhabi. If my
performance is not satisfactory, I promise to step down from the position within ninety days.
I thank you in advance for your consideration. Very truly yours,
J. L. Marsh
2 August 1994
14 Talaat Harb St.
11 '88 to present
Millars Bank (Cairo) Ltd.
14 Talaat Harb St., Cairo, Egypt
Position: Corporate Loan Officer
Duties: Liaison with clients; Processing of acceptance
s and transit items; financialinvestigations; Eurodollar
financing; Project evaluations.
Supervisor: John Phillips
6/85 to 11/88
Millars Bank (Beirut) Ltd.
POB 1028, Beirut, Lebanon
Position: Assistant Corporate Loan Officer
Duties: Processing of acceptances and transit items;
financial investigations; liaison with clients.
9/82 to 6/85
Millars Bank, International Division 58 Lombard St.,
London EC3, England
Position: Assistant, International Finance
Duties: Processing of letters of credit, acceptances,
and transit items; Eurodollar loan
financing; Middle East finance specialist. Translator and
interpreter: Arabic—English, English— Arabic.
Exhibit 3: CV of Janet Marsh Janet Louise Marsh
Citizenship: United Kingdom
Marital Status: Single
Date of Birth: 4 January 1961
London School of Economics
Houghton St., London WC2A 2PE, England
B.Sc. (Econ) June 1982 Programme: Monetary
Major Studies: Monetary Economics, Finance,
Accounting, Arabic, International Finance
“The Changing Character of International Finance in
Egypt,'' Banking International, v. 14, no. 63, 1982.
Arabic, French (fluent) German (reading knowledge)
Tennis, Swimming, Photography
Women conditions in Abu Dhabi in 1994
United Arab Emirates is a traditional arabic society:
The most conservative country of the Arabian Peninsula
Women rarely hold important positions
Women and men are not on the same equal footing
But the women conditions evolves differently in other
parts of the Middle East and North Africa
Smothers’ tranparency towards Marsh
and her integration in the Abu Dhabi
Misunderstanding between Smothers
and Duncan concerning the gender of
the new loan officer (Mrs Marsh)
Smother directly informed, Ducan
the vice-president in London.
Smothers and Marsh don’t have the
same opinion about women in
executive position in the Arabic World.
The position of women in Arab
societies is in a state of evolution.
Clash of cultures between the West
and the Middle East.
The is a gap between traditional and
modern Arab societies (not the same
Women don’t have the same
opportunities for higher education and
The international vice-president,
Duncan, was not awre of the cultural
differences in Arab countries
Discrimination against women in
Very conservative way to do business
in Abu Dhabi
No intention to give Mrs. Marsh a
chance to proove her capabilities and
Real implication from the London
office concerning the situation in Abu
Smothers does not trust Mrs. Marsh
even though she is qualified.
Direct proposition of a qualified worker
that would perfeclty fit for the job.
Smothers recognizes Marsh’s
Clash of culture between West and Middle East but also
between traditional and modern Arabic countries that can
lead to women discrimination in workplace.
1.Mrs. Marsh stays the new loan officer assigned for
2.Smothers hires her for a probation time of 90 days
3.Smothers hires an Arab man to assist her to deal with clients
1.Marsh moves in a more liberal country as corporate loan officer
2.Millars follows United Arab Emirates’ traditions and hire a man
instead of Ms. Marsh
Mrs. Marsh stays the new loan officer assigned for replacement
Fair for Mrs. Marsh and her 12 years-
experience in international banking.
The bank can lost a lot of clients
because of the place of women in Abu
Breaks the codes: leads to an
evolution inside a traditional society.
Smothers might always have a little
doubt (bad relationship between both
More credibility since she is a UK
citizen and not a local.
Smothers hires her for a probation time of 90 days
A way for marsh to proove her
reliability and qualifications to
Clients not accustomed to female in
More credibility since she is a UK
citizen and not a local.
It could seriously jeopardize
Smothers hires anArab man to assist her to deal with clients
Clients will be reassured. Marsh will still be running the
No loss of existing clients. Additional costs in terms of wages.
No trust towards Marsh and her ability
to deal with clients.
She will maybe not be really
enthusiastic about this solution and
won’t work in an efficient way.
Marsh moves in a more liberal country as corporate loan officer
The bank won’t lost any clients. She won’t have the chance to prove
that she is able to work in Abu Dhabi.
She keeps the same position as
corporate loan officer.
Millars follows UnitedArab Emirates’ traditions and hire a
man instead of Ms. Marsh
The bank won’t lost any clients Won’t help to change women
conditions in Arabic countries
Ms Marsh won’t have the chance to
prove that she is able to handle this
Do you think cultural difference can be a brake with the
process of hiring someone ?