Calls for boardrooms to open the door to women

Published:  07 January, 2008

Calls for boardrooms to open the door to women


A report issued by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (UKRC) outlines a series of good practice recommendations designed to address the under representation of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) boardrooms throughout the UK.  Currently SET boardrooms are lagging behind other FTSE 100 companies with the level of male directors at 92%, compared to 87.5% in non-SET firms.

The guidelines have been issued in conjunction with Cranfield School of Management's annual Female FTSE report which details the number of women on FTSE 100 boards and executive committees, and analyses the number of female-held directorships. 

The UKRC report, written by Dr Val Singh from Cranfield, gives detailed guidance on transforming boardroom culture, outlining advice for developing female talent within SET. It highlights specific practices that organisations should undertake to develop a more inclusive, and therefore effective, boardroom culture.

It emerged from 59 interviews conducted with company directors and senior staff, and a survey of a further 219 women in senior positions, that the lack of females in the executive boardroom creates a perception of exclusion and makes women feel that they are unlikely to be able to build successful careers in the organisation.

The UKRC"s recommendations to SET employers for a more inclusive and effective boardroom culture include: Chairing of board meetings with courtesy, consideration and control so that everyone can make their contribution; Paying attention to the way that new members are treated in the boardroom, and ensuring directors are appropriately developed for the boardroom and that there are opportunities for board interactions with women as well as men.

Annette Williams, director of the UKRC, says: "As the report clearly states there are too few women on SET boards.  This report identifies practical steps which companies can take, to start to change the culture and make up of SET boardrooms now and in the future. Firm commitment is needed from the top of British Industry to ensure that women are able to progress to their full potential in science, engineering and technology and that their talent is not wasted.

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