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Why are there so few women directors?

Lord Davies of AbersochMervyn Davies, a non-executive director of Diageo plc and a partner in Corsair Capital, is currently leading a review on behalf of the Government into the obstacles that prevent more women from reaching senior positions in business.

There is a strong business case for increasing the number of women on boards.  Evidence suggests that companies with female representation at board and top management level perform better than those without.  The view is that gender diverse boards enhance performance due to better decision making.

Research has tried to establish the reasons why there are so few women directors.  The findings of such research appear to support the view that, due to many organisations being led by men, there is not a culture which encourages women to enter many boardrooms.  This is concerning, given that there are many women in positions just below board level who are sufficiently qualified to sit on boards but do not get the opportunity.  Arguably this is due to stereotyping which leads to misperceptions of a female candidate’s competence and desire for high achievement.

The research, which was conducted by Cranfield University, highlighted that search consultancies are often insufficiently briefed when asked to recruit directors.  The responsibility clearly lies with existing directors to encourage more female candidates to apply for board vacancies. The Government has said it is committed to seeing swift change in this area and is looking to promote gender equality at board level. Rachel Watson

My colleague Rachel Watson is conducting a survey and will submit her findings to Mervyn Davies.

Rachel runs her own successful business, working as a Professional Coach, Training and Image Consultant. Rachel has significant experience in people and operational management, with a 20 year career within a blue chip organisation, coupled with 5 years successfully running her own business.

Her philosophy is that when people are valued and motivated they perform to a far higher standard. She is keen to see an increase in the number of women at board level and in 2011 she will be developing a series of workshops which will meet the needs of women who wish to become directors of organisations.

To participate in the survey please go to this page.

Stephen Smith
Managing Director
UK Training (Worldwide) Limited


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