Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister says that she wants at least 25 per cent of Swedish Board members to be female. Thus far, Norway is the only other country in the world to have threatened legislation. The Conservative minister of trade and industry has stated that 40 per cent of the Boards of listed companies should be female.
In the UK, the Higgs report highlights the need for greater diversity and stresses that Boards should recognise the benefits of diversity and appoint NEDs from a wider range of backgrounds including the appointment of more women. Currently, it is estimated that only 6 per cent of UK non-executive posts are currently held by women. Why do so few talented ambitious women reach the UK Boardroom?
A study in November by Cranfield School of Management's Centre for Developing Women Business Leaders, also reveals that female board members are still a very small minority at the UK's biggest companies. Our research reveals that after two years of falling numbers, women now make up 7.25 percent of all FTSE 100 board directors, following an increase to 75 in 2002 from 68 in 2001. of
It will be interesting to see what impact the Higgs report will have in helping to shift the balance of power in the Boardroom through the appointment of more female NEDs.
Compared to other European countries the cards really are stacked against aspirational women in the UK. This is especially true as you climb the career ladder and have to juggle and pay for childcare. Perhaps that’s why there are so few women at the top here.
I found that relocation to the UK was quite a shock in some respects. In the USA, women are far more confident about expressing themselves as equals than many of the executive women I’ve met in the UK.