30% Club – Accelerating Change
On July 1st Christine de Largy, Managing Director and Head of Retail Practice at Impact Executives, attended the lastest UK 30% Club event. The event was held to update on its progress but there were also updates from the investor community (point 2 below), UK Business Schools and updates from HK, the US and Australia (point 4).
Sir Roger Carr – Looking back what was clever about the concept was the principle of better business not a cause. The advocates were to be the seasoned chairman not women who had actually created the idea. Much as a Chair can influence behaviours it is the owners that call the shots and this has proved the success of this organisation. Aberdeen Asset Management led the charge, declaring at an investors meeting that they should hold management to account.
38 FTSE100 now have 25% women on the Board, a strong performance over four years. FTSE250, now only 48 all male boards, without quotas.
This initiative has influenced around the world. Looking ahead there is still a lot to do and the current momentum will not carry us over the line. Most battles are lost at the moment leaders felt the victory in sight. It is important this topic does not become yesterday’s news.
Owners must continue to press for change. We all struggle with unconscious bias but we have to work at that and it must be fuelled at home and at school. It is the smart daughters that are bringing about change. Everyone can make a contribution to that area by taking the opportunity to speak to children. Robert Peston, BBC business correspondent, runs a programme of speakers to talk in less advantage community schools to inspire children. We must stop early stereotyping.
It is still about merit as the entry ticket not gender. It’s just about making business better and most of all it is about ambitious able people spreading the word and challenging the status quo to fuel the opportunities. There is nothing better for business than liberating high quality, determined female talent.
Helena Morrissey – there is only 18 months to 2015.
Achievements have been helped by 5 factors.
- Zeitgeist – gender diversity a starting point for much needed change.
- Davies report
- Measurable objectives
- School room to board room
- Visible commitment of top business people.
The wheel of change:
- Better diagnosis
- Mid-career pipeline
- Corporate governance
- Executive search
- Global collective force for change
- Public policy
2) Investor group panel – ‘Next steps for shareholders’ (20 investor representatives, with £5 trillion assets)
Sir Win Bischoff– there is two types of power, the regulators and investors. Investors should use their influence. Next steps should be that women should hold 30% of roles at Exec Board level by 2020. Boards now have to declare gender by status but they should also declare the pathway, to show how achieving improvements.
Increasingly part of the investment process is to ask the CEO about board assessment and diversity and the pipeline of talent.
Boardex say women get through to interview but fail as they do not have the commercial skills. So we need to give women the chance in those roles.
We are aiming to encourage other investors to have a stick and vote against the Chair or CEO if they do not have a policy and mechanism in place to balance boards. In Australia investors are rating the Chair and Boards and publishing the results
3) Cracking the code- firms evaluation survey update on the myths
The 30% Club is looking at career strategy programmes for early to mid-career women. This is tricky for individual and businesses to manage family and other demands, there is not a one size fits all solution. This is a taboo subject, people are airing views privately but in business environments the walls come down. But early conversations may help keep women in work for longer. So we have created opportunity, through workshops for men and women, of 10 to 15 people. Have sensitive conversation, brainstorm solutions to lead to more concrete business approach, allow the difficult conversations to be more main-stream. Allow women and men to take control of the situation before it happens, most express some fear the impact of having a family but it is more about the fear of talking about it.
4) International approach to change
US – Kiersten Salnader, Dep Chief of Staff, Bloomberg. US 30% club launched 6 weeks ago, includes Warren Buffett in the group.
Ireland – Marie O’Connor, Partner PWC. Soft launch, with five chairs and steering groups. Public launch end of the year. Few plcs but many multi-nationals.
HK – Su-Mei Thompson, CEO The Women’s Foundation. (Not for profit, to provide advocacy for women in HK, education and mentoring programmes) Launched March 2013. Chairmen breakfasts to understand barriers for women. Discovered tightly controlled family companies, general lack of awareness about benefit of gender diversity, prevalence of trophy appointments so the same few women appointed to multiple boards. Now have 60 leading chairs and CEOs. In the last year moved from 10.6% to 11.2 % but 17% of new appointments women in one month. However, there are only 1,500 women to 12,000 men on boards. About to launch, with Linklaters, a survey of nomination committee.
Australia – Brenda Trenowden, Head of Financial Institutions Group, Global Head of Funds, ANZ. If outfit why not complying with regulations and gov boards have set 40% won’t by 2015. Sports boards 40%, currently 29% tied in with funding. May 18.2 % asx200 from 10.7% 2010. But 41 out of the 200 boards have no women. 30% club just about to launch so bound to be exciting change near.
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