Are we nearly there yet? Women in the Boardroom.
Some journeys are long and uncomfortable. Taking children on a lengthy car journey, for instance, can be fraught with all sorts of problems, alleviated only with the promise that It won’t be long now.
The same can be said of the government’s drive to reach their own destination as far as women representation on company boards is concerned. In 2011, at the beginning of the journey, Lord Davies stated in his report Women On Boards
FTSE 100 boards should aim for a minimum of 25% female representation by 2015….
Chairmen should disclose meaningful information about the company’s appointment process and how it addresses diversity in the company’s annual report including a description of the search and nominations process…
We encourage companies periodically to advertise non-executive board positions to encourage greater diversity in applications…
Although the top 100 companies are heading in the right direction, and are apparently not far from their target, there is still a way to go if they are to reach 25% female representation. The latest figures show that women representation on FTSE 100 boards is running at 20.4%. The last thing we want to happen at this stage is for companies to run out of fuel.
Think of that car filled with fractious, hungry and increasingly vociferous children who can smell the salt air of the sea but frustratingly can’t see it yet:
Sorry, kids. You’ll just have to wait here in the car while I see where I can find some petrol. Now stay in the car and I won’t be long.
It would be frustrating indeed if companies failed to reach their avowed destination. But for those running out of time, where exactly can they find the necessary fuel to top up their capacity to get there? Lord Davies himself – in the third quotation above – gives the answer. Most of the 20.4% representation mentioned earlier come from non-executive positions. It still leaves around fifty appointments to be made if the 100 companies are to arrive at their destination. Still, Non-Executive appointments are looking increasingly like the fuel required to make that final leg of the journey.
Lord Davies himself has recently stated:
This has never been a hard sell. Companies see that having more women at their top table makes good business sense, especially if we are operating in a global market. We’ve come a long way over the last two years but we must not get complacent and take the foot off the gas.
But the metaphor from earlier – comparing the aim to reach the 25% target with an uncomfortable car journey – is erroneous and mischievous, is it not? It implies that the drive to reach a laudable target is troublesome and causes untold misery for the driver – or the CEO of a large company. As Lord Davies implies, the journey hasn’t been a difficult one to plot, once companies were given the initial push.
Nevertheless, let’s play with the metaphor one more time, and project the image forward. Imagine the destination has been reached. The kids are ensconced on the beach, the sun is shining and you’re about to sample the local delicacies. You’re the driver, remember? The journey was worth it, and you listened carefully to the Sat-Nav all the way. You’re lying on the sand and smile.
Why, even your husband is smiling.
Ian Wright is the CEO and Founder of NonExecutiveDirectors.com, the UK’s largest “free to recruit from” online non-executive director network.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ian Wright .