Top firms offer ‘pitiful’ reasons for snubbing women

Business leaders have been accused of failing to achieve gender diversity at senior levels. Read the top 10 “shocking” explanations for the lack of diversity.

Boardroom meeting
Too many major British companies are paying only lip service to achieving gender diversity at a senior level despite government demands that women occupy at least a third of boardroom seats in the nation’s 350 largest firms by 2020.

Excusing a lack of diversity

An interim report from the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review accused some business leaders of making “pitiful and patronising excuses” to explain why they had yet to appoint enough women to senior positions.Although the report said progress was being made in many companies, it listed the top 10 excuses made by some of the FTSE 350 companies for their poor records on diversity, including such claims as women “don’t fit in”, they don’t want the hassle that comes with a senior role, and that they struggle with complex issues.Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said, “It’s shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from the top jobs. Our most successful companies are those that champion diversity.“Thankfully, there has been great progress in recent years and through our modern Industrial Strategy and the Hampton-Alexander Review we are determined that everyone has an equal opportunity to reach the top.”Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, added, “As you read this list of excuses you might think it’s 1918, not 2018. It reads like a script from a comedy parody but it’s true. Surely we can now tackle this once and for all.”
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Slow improvement in diversity

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the number of male-only FTSE 350 company boards fell from 152 in 2011 to ten last year. The Hampton-Alexander Review has now written to 35 firms with no or little low female representation on their boards, calling for urgent action to rectify the situation.Sir Philip Hampton, who chairs the review, said the situation was improving generally but added, “Around a third of FTSE 350 companies still have very few women either on their boards or in senior leadership roles.“We used to hear these excuses regularly a few years ago, thankfully much less so now. However, leaders expressing warm words of support but actually doing very little to appoint women into top jobs - or quietly blocking progress - are really not much better.”The BEIS said, “Evidence has shown that bridging the gender pay gap could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025 and tackling the gender pay gap is part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.”The department said the top 10 “shocking” explanations for a lack of diversity were:
  1. ‘I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment’
  2. ‘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’
  3. ‘Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board’
  4. ‘Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?’
  5. ‘My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board’
  6. ‘All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up’
  7. ‘We have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else’s turn
  8. ‘There aren’t any vacancies at the moment - if there were I would think about appointing a woman’
  9. ‘We need to build the pipeline from the bottom - there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector’
  10. ‘I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to’
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