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Excuses On Lack Of Gender Diversity Are “Pitiful & Patronising” Says Government Minister

The Hampton-Alexander Review is an independent, business-led review supported by Government. It was set up to build on the work of the Davies Review, to look into increasing female boardroom representation in FTSE companies. It published its initial findings in November 2016, and set a target that at least a third of FTSE 350 boards and FTSE 100 leadership teams should be filled by women by 2020. The target relating to leadership teams was later extended to the FTSE 250

Hampton-Alexander Review: November 2017 Report

The latest report by the Hampton-Alexander Review was published in November 2017. I stated that there needs to be an increase in pace to hit the targets by 2020 and that to hit those targets, 40% of appointments needed to go to women over the next few years. The review found that over the last year, women on the Combined Executive Committee and Direct Reports as regards FTSE 100 companies has increased from 25.1% to just 25.2%. In relation to FTSE 100 boards, the number of women has increased from 26.6% to 27.7%, whilst amongst the FTSE 250, it increased from 21.1% to 22.8%. However, amongst the FTSE 350, the position remained static at 24.5%. Nevertheless, updated figures published on the 6th February 2018 by BoardEx found that the number of women on FTSE boards had increased as follows

  • FTSE 100 – 28.7%
  • FTSE 250 – 23.4%
  • FTSE 350 – 25.2%

The Excuses Made

When examining the reasons for the slow rate of progress as regards gender diversity on boards and in leadership teams, a number of Chairs and CEO’s at FTSE companies were spoken to. The following are some of the excuses that were given:-

  • Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?
  • My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board.
  • All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”
  • We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn.
  • I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment.”
  • There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex.
  • Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.
  • There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman.
  • We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector.”
  • I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to.

In response to these excuses, the Business minister, Andrew Griffiths, stated: “It’s shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from the top jobs. Our most successful companies are those that champion diversity. Thankfully, there has been great progress in recent years and through our modern Industrial Strategy and the Hampton-Alexander Review we are determined that everyone has an equal opportunity to reach the top.”

Sir Philip Hampton, the Chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review, added: “Around a third of FTSE 350 companies still have very few women either on their boards or in senior leadership roles. We used to hear these excuses regularly a few years ago, thankfully much less so now. However, leaders expressing warm words of support but actually doing very little to appoint women into top jobs – or quietly blocking progress – are really not much better.”

Amanda Mackenzie, the Chief Executive of Business in the Community stated: “As you read this list of excuses you might think it’s 1918 not 2018. It reads like a script from a comedy parody but it’s true. Surely we can now tackle this once and for all. Maybe those that give credence to these excuses are the ones that are not up to sitting on boards and should move over: we are in the 21st century after all. However, we have plenty of reasons to be optimistic; the combination of gender pay gap reporting and the increased focus on equality and diversity in general by responsible businesses means there are more women on boards than ever before. While we still have a long way to go, with the collaboration between government, employers and their employees (both men and women), we could see true equality in our lifetime.”

Posted in Equal Pay, Gender Pay Gap Reporting, Gender Pay Reporting, General Employment Law and tagged , , .