Board equality: the quota debate

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Board equality: the quota debate

How did the CEOs of the last seven FTSE 100 firms with no female board members feel when Vince Cable wrote to them earlier this year to ask why?  The Business Secretary pointed out that organisations should be making sure they have the right people around their top table. As he argues, this is not about equality, it is simply good governance and good business.

So will his actions make a difference or is legislation required? Not according to research among our own female executive network or debates and reports coming from the House of Lords. Despite some form of legislation being in place in seven other European countries (including Norway which already has the EU proposed 40% minimum of women on boards in place), women in business here felt that quotas were not the way ahead. Lord Davies’ Women on Boards report from November 2012 concluded that many businesses are making progress voluntarily without the need for quotas. In the UK, FTSE 100 companies are broadly on target for a quarter of board positions to be occupied by women by 2015; and across the EU the proportion has risen by 16 per cent since 2010, to nearly 14 per cent.

While some progress is being made, and politicians debate the issue at the highest levels, more practical support is needed. That is why Impact Executives, as part of the Harvey Nash group, are supporting two initiatives to encourage and prepare women to apply for those top positions. Our Inspire Board network provides a secure environment where senior women executives can exchange ideas and experiences. And a new development with the University of Hong Kong – The Women’s Directorship Programme – is the world’s first certificated, cross-industry board preparedness programme for women, aimed at increasing the number of women on boards globally.

I hope you will join in the debate with us at either our next Inspire event or through this blog. And let’s hope that it won’t take 70 years for gender equality on boards to be achieved, if only so that Vince can be spared the bother of writing to any remaining FTSE companies with no female board representation this time next year…

About Impact Executives Ltd
Impact Executives is a leading interim management provider to organisations of every size in the UK and globally. Originally formed as a specialist practice within PA Consulting Group, over the past 25 years Impact Executives has helped over 2000 companies, including more than two-thirds of the FTSE 250 – find the very best executive interim management talent. Clients choose to work in partnership with Impact Executives because of our proven ability to offer clients immediate solutions to improve their organisation’s performance.

With offices covering the UK, continental Europe, Nordics, Asia Pacific and Australia, Impact Executives is part of the global services consultancy Harvey Nash Group plc, giving clients and interim managers the confidence that we have the resources, expertise and focus to deliver results – fast.

For further information on Impact Executives, please contact Steffany Young, Impact Executives, Tel: 0044 20 7314 2011 Email: