By Max Clarke
Lord Davies’ report on “diversity in the boardroom” is due to be presented to the government on Thursday, but women remain underrepresented in management.
“Although women make up half of the population and more than half of university graduates, they remain woefully under-represented at board level. What is needed is cultural change, which fosters the leadership development of women in middle management, not quotas, ratios or tokenism. That is why a flexible system that will allow firms to set targets that reflect the realities of their market place is likely to be more effective.” Said Carmen Watson, one of the UK’s most successful female business leaders as Managing Director of Pertemps Recruitment Partnership, a 280m turn over business and one of the UK’s largest independent recruitment agencies.
A recent survey of 3,000 managers from the Institute of Leadership and Management of found that 73% of women managers feel that they still face barriers to top level promotion in the UK and that the ‘Glass ceiling’ is still a reality for them. Of those questioned only 38% of men agreed. When asked about the possibility quotas for female executives 47% of women, but only 24% of men thought this was a good idea.
It is widely felt that Lord Davies will steer clear of quotas although according to recent research from the Cranfield School of Management, only 12% of the FTSE boardrooms are made up of female directors.
The European Union wants to see the numbers of women in company boardrooms tripled within the next five years and the EU’s Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding said her goal was to see 30% women directors on boards by 2015 and 40% by 2020.
In a recent national newspaper article on diversity, Lord Davies has not ruled (quotas) out as a recommendation and remains unconvinced that they are the right method to encourage progress.
Watson believes that the real solution lies within businesses working collaboratively with important stakeholders.
She said, “All key stakeholders need to work together; companies, shareholders, the government and the recruitment profession, in order to deliver the changes that will help women to achieve these board-level positions. Businesses which have diverse boardrooms are more empowered to serve markets which are becoming more diverse, across a wide variety of sectors. Boardroom diversity is no longer an option but a critical part of the growth strategy of many businesses in order to remain competitive both in the UK and abroad.”