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The excuses for why women aren’t represented at executive level

A list of “pitiful and patronising excuses” was revealed just a couple of years ago for why many FTSE 350 company’s boardrooms are still dominated by men. Amanda McKenzie, from Business in the Community said: “As you read this list of excuses, you might think it is 1918, not 2018.” She couldn’t be more correct. Here is a sample of those excuses:

  • “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board.”
  • “I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to.”
  • “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”
  • “There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex.”
  • “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”
  • “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment.”
  • “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it’s someone else’s turn.”
  • “All of the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”

These interviews and research were conducted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Chairman of the review, Sir Philip Hampton explained that, woefully, around a third of FTSE 350 companies still have very few women at board level, or in senior leadership positions. The review was published in 2018 and called on the FTSE 350 companies to make sure that at least a third of their board and leadership team were women by this year.

Given that recently one-fifth of the FTSE 350 companies received letters cautioning them for lack of gender diversity at senior levels, we can understand that little has changed.

Is it all bad news?

We can’t escape the picture that these excuses paint. They are too prevalent as attitudes in society and in business. However, there have been positive steps taken in recent years to improve the diversity of boards.

The number of women on boards has “more than doubled in the FTSE 350 since 2011.” We’ve gone from having 152 boards in the FTSE 350 with no female representation on the board, to just 10, in that time.

At Stanton Keller, when we work with FTSE 350 companies, and other business leaders, we are increasingly pleased with how we see wholehearted support for more diverse executive search strategies. Many also recognise that they need to partner with talent search specialists who themselves recognise the monumental need for diversity and inclusion to be central to recruitment practices.

It takes time, but we can move more willingly, and faster

Change does take time. We are aware that we need to ensure that women are positioned so that they are in place to take leadership roles. However, we can move faster than we have been. Including women in leadership must sit at the top of the agenda, most particularly as we build and shape talent pipelines. It needs to be a central and overriding goal that has the unwavering support of those within leadership already. If they cannot support it, and take steps to ensure it is achieved, then they shouldn’t be in senior leadership themselves.

How to bring more women on board at the executive level

There are multiple different elements that come into play to ensure diversity is achieved. These include brainstorming ideas in a specific industry or sector through to using a systematic and inclusive talent search process.

We are here to help you make diversity a reality which benefits your organisation. Get in touch on +44 (0) 203 983 3050.

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To find out more about how Stanton Keller have assisted global corporations with Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Mapping, Talent Pipelining and Executive Search then speak to an expert on +44 (0) 203 983 3050 or email search@stantonkeller.com.