Culture change, not quotas, needed for women executives

Posted on 21 Feb 2011 by The Manufacturer

Ahead of Lord Davies' report on women in the boardroom, due on Thursday, a survey reveals that most people do not support the idea of enforced quotas for the number of female executives.

In a survey conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management among 3,000 managers, 47 per cent of women and only 23 per cent of men said quotas would be a good idea.

According to Cranfield School of Management, only 12 per cent ofFTSE boardroom positions in the UK are currently filled by women. Lord Davies, a former trade secretary, was commissioned last year to research ways of improving the ratio. He is due to present his findings to Government on Thursday. However, although he has previously suggested that an enforced quota is a possibility, he is not expected to recommend one in his report.

Carmen Watson, managing director of Pertemps Recruitment Partnership, a £280m turn over business and one of the UK’S largest independent recruitment agencies said, a sae cahnge in the UK business culture to support womens’ routes into the boardroom is needed, rather than just a specified amount of female presence.

“Although women make up half of the population and more than half of university graduates, they remain woefully under-represented at board level,” she said.

“What is needed is cultural change, which fosters the leadership development of women in middle management, not quotas, ratios or tokenism.  That is why a flexible system that will allow firms to set targets that reflect the realities of their market place is likely to be more effective.”

“All key stakeholders need to work together; companies, shareholders, the government and the recruitment profession, in order to deliver the changes that will help women to achieve these board-level positions.  Businesses which have diverse boardrooms are more empowered to serve markets which are becoming more diverse, across a wide variety of sectors.  Boardroom diversity is no longer an option but a critical part of the growth strategy of many businesses in order to remain competitive both in the UK and abroad.”

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has targeted 30% women directors on boards by 2015 and 40% by 2020.