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Cranfield Female FTSE Board report - PwC and Reeves Comments

Cranfield Female FTSE Board report - PwC and Reeves Comments

PwC comments on the Cranfield School of Management’s report that shows progress has stalled in appointing more women to board-level roles in the UK’s top companies.

Dawn Nicholson, HR consulting partner at PwC, said:  "As with any new initiative, it is sometimes easier at the outset to get commitment and buy in and that may explain the excellent results achieved previously. The challenge now is to keep the momentum going. Companies need to remain focused, particularly when it may get more difficult to maintain and demonstrate progress.

“To achieve real progress, business leaders need to be talking to and challenging their headhunters when looking for external candidates. Companies need to put pressure on their internal teams to ensure that they are attracting women and other diverse candidates and nurturing these groups so that they fulfil their potential.

"The fact progress is stalling raises the question of whether the net is being thrown wide enough. We have seen some new talent emerge, but it really isn't enough. Firms should be held to account over whether they are doing everything they can to develop the female talent that they have. This could include providing visible, relatable and aspirational role models greater accountability for managers to bring on female talent and individual nurturing of female and other diverse talent.

"Effort needs to be made even before young women come into the workplace to ensure that they want to achieve their full potential and feel supported in doing so. Once in the workplace, companies have a responsibility to nurture and progress all of their talent. Companies who treat their employees as individuals will be more successful in attracting, retaining and developing their diverse talent.”

Commenting on what PwC is doing to encourage more women into senior positions, Sarah Churchman, PwC’s head of diversity and engagement, said:

"We know from experience that specific action is required to get women onto the Executive.  Interventions that target women, such as sponsorship, leadership development and executive search are essential. In 18 months we went from zero to 27% females on our executive board and, as we agree gender targets across our business, we know these will drive action plans which will give us more balanced talent pipelines for the future."

Response to Cranfield study re women on UK company boards.

Fiona Hotston Moore, corporate partner at City accountancy firm Reeves (and one of only two women to ever run a top 30 UK accountancy firm) and co-founder of Accelerated Board Development , which promotes women to executive roles, said :

"This is further depressing evidence that the Government's voluntary approach to encourage firms to put more women in boardrooms is failing. We need to have temporary quotas to force the issue.

"The evidence also suggests that most of the modest increase in board appointments has been to non-executive roles, in other words more decorative than decision-making.

"Given the huge pressures on women, not least to juggle work and family, only the very ablest are putting themselves forward for senior roles. These are people have probably fought harder and longer than their male counterparts to reach a challenging position. Are we really saying as an economy that they have less to offer than a man? The lack of female representation is arcane, absurd and damaging to business interests..

"The Cranfield review also sends a chilling signal to ambitious young women: You will only rise so far and in certain professions. What a message for the Twenty-First Century."


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