In 2016, the Government ordered the UK’s 350 biggest firms to ensure that women hold at least a third of boardroom positions by 2020.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot to be done to improve gender equality in UK boardrooms.
The recently released Hampton-Alexander review of UK boardroom diversity shows that five of the top 350 companies have so far failed to appoint any women to their boards.
A further 75 companies were accused of appointing only one woman to the board in what was described as a “tokenistic gesture”.
Some of the excuses given by chairs and chief executives for failing to appoint women to these positions include:
These reasons rely heavily on gender stereotyping and don’t show a realistic view of women in the workforce.
In particular, there is a worrying lack of gender diversity in the UK’s tech industry. Almost two-thirds of boards in this sector have no female representation at all.
A report from agency Inclusive Boards showed that women make up just 12.6% of board members in technology.
Inclusive Boards’ director Samuel Kasumu said of this report: “The figures are particularly worrying when you consider how important the tech sector is. It contributed close to £200bn to the economy in the last year and its growth rate is 2.5 times faster than the whole economy.”
While the technology sector has been shown to have fair racial representation, with 1 in 9 senior leaders coming from black, Asian or minority backgrounds, gender is much less well represented.
Technology companies often complain that there is a lack of diversity in their hiring ‘pipeline’. As fewer females are studying STEM subjects at school or university, this means that their candidates are often male. Education institutions have long been challenged to increse the number of females studying these topics.
Companies shouldn’t feel like they are being forced to hire female board members just as a box-ticking exercise. The aim of increasing diversity in the workplace is to get businesses to look past prejudices and stereotypes and to see each candidate as a sum of their qualities, not their race, gender or age.
During research conducted over a period of forty years and analysing 27 million employees’ responses, performance management consultants Gallup found that female managers outperform their male counterparts in driving employee engagement.
Some of the qualities that women have been shown to possess that make them great managers of people and companies include:
Board members should be appointed based on their leadership, analytical and business skills rather than their gender. There is much evidence to support women’s ability to succeed in board positions.
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Philip specialises in: Senior, Director and C-Level roles in Digital Marketing
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