As I have been saying for some time, we need to sort out the issue of the lack of women in senior management posts and on boards. We need to do this for 2 very good reasons.
1. There are numerous studies which prove that companies with diverse boards make more profit. We could stop there – that should be a good enough reason. But just in case it isn’t here is reason number 2.
2. If we don’t sort it out – and really really quickly – the EU will legislate it and then we will have to do it, which probably means a lot of red tape, panic hiring of unsuitable board members and ultimately that can only be bad for business.
So why do I think – no ….why do I KNOW this is going to happen.
Well – despite banging on about this for several years the amount of women in boardrooms across Europe is only 13.7%. (The UK is slightly better at 15.6% from figures just in). That is up less then 2% since 2010 (when it was 11.8%). At this rate it would take more than 40 years before we are approaching equality in the boardroom. I am sure the politically correct brigade will have a fit about this – but those who know me well will know I don’t really give a stuff about being PC for PC’s sake. What I do think is the over riding factor as a business owner – is that (and it bears repeating) the companies with the most diverse boards MAKE THE MOST PROFIT.
Also EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding yesterday announced the launch of the three-month consultation – so we know what that means don’t we – they listen to all the reasons why business haven’t / can’t do it, and then they ignore it all and legislate it.
So – come on all you MD’s and CEO’s out there. Yes, I know you don’t want to lose all the white haired experience on your boards and yes I know you don’t want to be told what to do. I am an MD and a non exec of another company and I don’t like it either. But that is exactly what is going to happen unless you take it upon yourself to change things now.
So – my suggestion is – start having a look at who you can develop within your business and plan the development of the board strategically now. Look at who the external Champions of your business are / might be and create some non-exec posts. Look at who is taking up a seat on your board and not really returning an ROI for you and see if you can’t persuade them to make way for someone of a different gender. I know – we shouldn’t have to positively discriminate – but the fact is if we are going to have to. Would you rather it was your choice NOW or someone else’s later????