Leading executives at some of Britain’s top firms have been described as using “pitiful and patronising” excuses for not promoting more women to corporate boards.
According to a Government-backed review of gender balance in the FTSE 350, sexist bosses believe businesswomen “don’t fit in” at board level and “don’t want the hassle” of top quality jobs.
Business minister Andrew Griffiths says: “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.”
The explanations were heard by the team behind the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, which has challenged all FTSE 350 companies to make sure at least a third of their board members are women by 2020.
According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the explanations include:
- “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”
- “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”
- “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”
- “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”
- “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board”
- “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”
- “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn”
- “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman”
- “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector”
- “I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to”
Legal & General Investment management director of corporate governance Sacha Sadan says: “As a major investor in the UK we see diversity as a key business issue. LGIM has been active in the diversity debate since 2011, and has been voting against all male boards since 2015.
“Boards made up of just men, from the same socio-economic backgrounds, cannot be the optimal forum for challenging debates.
“Although we have seen good progress at non-executive level there is still much more to do on the senior leadership pipeline. Therefore we continue to encourage companies to tap into the whole talent pool.”
Companies with more than 250 employees were recently forced to publish their gender pay gap figures by the Government.
The figures proved to be embarrassing for many firms in the advice and investment sectors which pride themselves on diversity and has forced them to finally confront the problem of pay disparity head on.