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Gender equality in the boardroom

By Teresa Boughey

I’ve heard some excuses in my time, but never those more shocking than ‘The Top 10 worst excuses for not appointing women executives’ which featured on BBC News.   

These so called ‘explanations’, from a range of chairs and CEOs were heard by the team behind the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, as the review reaches it halfway stage.  

The review was established to increase the number of women in senior positions and has challenged all FTSE companies to ensure at least a third of their board members and leadership are women by 2020. 

The Top 10 worst ‘explanations’ included: 

You may have expected to hear these ‘explanations’ in 1980s but they are appalling excuses in 2018 and clearly demonstrate that there’s still a long way to go to close the gender gap. 

Gender diversity has risen to the top of the leadership agenda, particularly with gender pay reporting an annual requirement for organisations with more than 250 employees. 

Potential employees and customers can now view gender pay data and will use this to inform decisions, paying attention to the steps organisations are, or in some cases are not, taking to close that gap.  

Top talent is likely to be drawn to companies that recognise and value the benefits of a diverse workforce. 

In addition, if organisations hold the belief that ‘Shareholders just aren't interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?"’ then think again. 

The Financial Times reported earlier this year that Legal & General Investment Management is stepping up its threat to target chairs of companies where women are badly under-represented and has already begun voting against all-male boards in the US. 

I have been advocating greater gender diversity for many years and work with companies on developing people strategies to accelerate the pace of change in the boardroom. 

This includes challenging leadership behaviour and bias, mentoring both male executives and aspiring women in business as well as development plans and consultancy. 

Whilst progress is being made, these shocking quotes show there is still a long way to go in terms of board diversity and representation of women in senior management positions. 

Research consistently shows that successful companies are those that champion diversity. 

Women in business bring new ideas, new ways of seeing things, new solutions and use their communication skills to inspire and influence decisions. 

They also make up 50% of the population and make most of consumer purchasing decisions – so exclude them at your peril! 

Teresa Boughey is an HR, diversity and inclusion specialist from Jungle HR Limited near Newport with over 20 years of experience of working with executive boards and leadership teams during times of change and transformation. She is a UK Female Entrepreneur Ambassador and a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Enterprise.


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