Women on Boards – Still Work to be Done

It is heartening to see how much progress has been made since 2011 when the Davies Report highlighted the need for companies to redress the gender balance of UK boardrooms.

The third annual Women on Boards report, published on Wednesday, shows that women now account for 20.7% of board positions in the FTSE100 – up from 17.3% in 2013 and 12.5% in 2011.

The original review by Lord Davis set a target of 25% by 2015 so it would appear that this is now likely to be met. Clearly, this is very good news.  However, in my eyes, it will only gloss over the problems should companies decide to rest on their laurels.  It is vital that not only is the 25% target met but that it is exceeded and allowed to grow further as the years progress.

Complacency among companies on reaching the 25% target would ruin all the splendid work that has been done to date. There is no good reason why we should all be happy with 25% - why shouldn’t this continue to rise?

There is also a great deal that still needs to be done. The percentage of women in boardrooms is not the be-all and end-all.  This week’s report shows a large gap in the type of board positions going to women, with female directors only accounting for 25.5% of non-executive directorships and only 6.9% of executive directorships.  Strong female candidates for these positions must be nurtured and clearly there is a long way to go.

There are many reasons as to why women have, for so long, been the minority at board level. It is a complex issue with many deep-rooted and underlying problems that a large proportion of UK companies all face. Much of it is ingrained into a company’s culture.  I have been fortunate to work for a company in Pertemps which takes great pride in its diversity and creates opportunities for the best talent; men or women.  We work hard to make our workplaces the best they can be, where employees are given all the support they need to thrive.  I believe diverse workplaces are successful workplaces and that companies need to be more flexible in how they recruit, manage and develop talent.