Following on from last week’s blog where we discussed briefly what Chairman Axel Rudolph had to say at the STA’s 50th birthday party at City Hall – and the bombshell (for me at least) that he was stepping down at the end of this year – I was reminded of a recent review of gender representation in UK FTSE 350 listed companies.
The government’s BEIS department commissioned the review, led by Sir Philip Hampton, chair of GlaxoSmithKline, and Dame Helen Alexander, former chair of UBM who sadly died of cancer; it will get to its half-way stage on the 27th of this month. Launched in November 2016, a few snippets and comments were released very recently.
Government ministers did not like what they heard, saying it was ‘outrageous’ that today 10 of the top 350 firms did not have a single woman on the board – a considerable improvement on 2011 when 152 had none at all. A long time too since Helena Morrissey of Legal and General in 2010 launched her 30% Club to get female representation to that proportion in FTSE 100 companies. This review wants 30% at the FTSE 350 by 2020.
This month it published the worst of the ‘pitiful and patronising’ excuses company directors came up with to keep women away. I will list them verbatim; explanations unnecessary.
- Shareholders 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.
- 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.
- All the good women have already been snapped up.
- 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 the sector.
- I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to.
- I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment.
- Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.
Tell that to Anne Whitby, STA company secretary, Leona Gomez-Lopez, STA treasurer, and Karen Jones, the STA’s head of marketing and Executive Committee member for twelve years.