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UK Corporations not Doing Enough To Promote Women On Boards

UK Corporations not Doing Enough To Promote Women On Boards

Overwhelming majority of Senior Corporate Directors don’t believe UK corporations are doing enough to promote women onto Boards

95% of respondents believe women are under-represented in UK boardrooms

Female quotas for boardrooms are opposed

A huge majority (90%) of senior corporate directors believe that UK corporates are failing to do enough to promote women onto boards, yet 95% are opposed to the imposition of female quotas, according to a recent survey1 conducted by Heartwood, the wealth and investment manager.

The survey, which took place at a panel event hosted by Lord Mervyn Davies that discussed UK board representation and the role of Non Executive Directors, shows there is unanimous agreement that women are currently under-represented in UK boardrooms.  The biggest obstacles to improvement are management perceptions of gender roles, cited by 43% of respondents, and family commitments (cited by 32%).

When asked about the single most helpful measure that would increase the representation of women on boards, the top three elements that senior directors pointed to were a more diverse pool of candidates, a focus on flexible working conditions, and more female role models.

Lord Mervyn Davies CBE commented: “The absence of female representation on UK boards has been a huge lost opportunity and it’s vital that companies redress the gender imbalance.  However we have seen major signs of progress in the last 18 months: 45% of those joining UK boards have been women, and in 50% of cases this is their first appointment.  But more needs to be done in order for women to feel confident that they can earn a place on a board.  I believe the introduction of quotas would be a  big mistake but we have to maintain the drive for change as there are still far too many companies with very few or no women at the top table.”

Simon Lough, Chief Executive Officer of Heartwood said: “It’s encouraging to see that attitudes towards female board representation are changing, and exchanging ideas on how the current obstacles can be overcome plays a key role in expediting this process.  By hosting this event we are pleased to have provided a constructive forum for positive ideas and we hope that many of the solutions that were put forward become increasingly prevalent among UK companies.  UK boardrooms need to change with the times – a more diverse boardroom creates a more rounded and innovative management process.”

[Lord Davies was joined on the panel by: Jayne Almond, Executive Chairman of Stonehaven and Non Executive Director of Aldermore Bank and Chair of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee of Oxford University Veronica Eng, founding partner of Permira and Kevan Watts, Vice Chairman of Global Banking at HSBC.]


Main reason cited for women being under-represented in UK boardrooms

Percentage of respondents

Management perceptions of gender roles


Family commitments


Lack of interest in executive / board level roles


Lack of suitably qualified candidates


Source: Heartwood, December 2012


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