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Latest News - Lack Of Women In Uk Boardrooms Concerns Brown

Tuesday Mar 9

Gordon Brown wants answers from UK business

Lack of women in UK boardrooms concerns Brown

Gordon Brown has called the lack of women in UK boardrooms “completely unacceptable” and called on business to explain its lack of progress on the issue.

As equality campaigners mark International Women’s Day today (8 March), the prime minister said he wants businesses to report what action they are taking to boost the number of women in senior positions. He has asked the Financial Reporting Council, the corporate governance regulator, to consider adding this requirement to its code of conduct.

“A new principle in the governance code on diversity would build on the provisions in the equality bill, which allow employers to take positive action when recruiting to balance their workforce,” said Brown. “But if we do not see a dramatic change in the composition of company boards in the future, we will need to consider taking more serious action to ensure companies recruit from the diverse pool of exceptional talent we have in the UK,” he added.

The move comes as research commissioned by the government equalities office found that 60 per cent of people think there are not enough female directors in big businesses.

Half of those asked believed there will be equal numbers of men and women directors within the next 20 years. But the government said the reality is that it will take 60 years for women to gain equal representation on the boards of the top 100 companies at the current rate of progress.

The vast majority (80 per cent) thought a gender balanced senior management team would better understand their customers. And nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) believed that businesses are missing out on talent by having fewer women in senior roles.

A survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also found that perceptions on senior-level equality differed between men and women. As much as 44 per cent of men think women already have equal access to top jobs, while only 23 per cent of women believe this.

The perception gap widened further when the 2,000 respondents were asked how tough it was for women to get top jobs. Only a fifth of men thought women will have had to work harder and longer than men to get to the top in business. But nearly double the amount of women (39 per cent) thought they’d have to work harder than male colleagues to secure a promotion.

Sarah Churchman, director of diversity at PwC, said: “Some men don’t realise what it’s like to face a macho male-dominated culture in a working environment. The fight to the top gets tougher all the time, the more squeeze companies put on learning, promotions, and pay rises. Job insecurity could reverse the progress we’ve made in equality because it breeds presenteeism, people protecting their own work, and a tougher fight to the top for all.”

Source: www.peoplemanagement.co.uk - 8 March 2010

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