The report called “Women on Boards” has many celebrating the progress that most companies have made in appointing women to high ranking positions in successful businesses.
‘Women on Boards’ pointed out that 94 of the FTSE 100 had women on their board of directors. The remaining 6 have been contacted by Vincent Cable, Business Secretary, who urged them to take a proactive role and to allow women the opportunity to actively participate in the decision-making processes of their businesses.
Lord Davies, former Government Minister, has no doubt that the objective of increasing women in positions of power will be reached. He mentions that he has no doubt that the outlined goal that a minimum of 25% of the FTSE 350 will house female board members will be accomplished by 2015. However in order to reach this goal, 66 more females will have to be assigned position as directors. Additionally, even at this pace, in order to reach complete equality in these boardrooms would take another 70 years without more initiative from governing bodies.
Unilever is one of the few FTSE companies who have over one third of their boardroom seats occupied by women.
There is even incentive for these companies to promote women into the board of directors as shown by a report from the Credit Suisse Group AG released in 2012. This study showed that companies with mixed gender boardrooms had better share prices than those who did not. Companies valued over $10 billion were studied over a 6 year period.
Although many praise the progress being made, many still have their reservations.
A founding member of the Women’s Business Forum, Heather Jackson, is one of those people.
“What we really need to be concentrating on is fixing and developing the leaking pipeline of female talent at middle management,” she said. “The percentage increase of women at executive level in UK business over last few years has been minimal because we have not addressed the real issue.”
She explains that placing women in certain positions will not change anything and instead women should be supplied with access to mentorship programs early on in order to plan out a solid career path. It is still difficult to find women in CEO, CFO and COO roles in many companies.
Lord Davies also adds, “Appointing more women as non-executive directors is not an end in itself. This is about more talented women getting executive experience, so that they will not only advise, but run this country’s great companies.”
The only companies that have women CEO’s from the FTSE 100 are Burberry, Imperial Tobacco and easyJet.
This may be a step in the right direction but it is apparent that in order to stay on this path companies must take a pro-active role in supporting women and allowing them opportunities that they were not previously granted.