I have to confess to being more than a little disappointed at the views expressed by Nichola Pease in the press recently suggesting that women were ‘wrecking their careers’ by taking their full 12 months maternity leave. Ms Pease , who a mother of three is deputy chairman of JO Hambro was giving evidence to a treasury select committee investigating sexism in the City. “Legislation is turning into a nightmare – I think we have got too long maternity leave – a year is too long!” She also felt that the practice in Norway, where businesses are required by law to give 40% of their board positions to women, are flawed.
What really disappoints me is the implied view that the legislation we have in place is there in some way to pander to the fact that women have children. What about the business case for harnessing and retaining the skills that so many women have in the workplace? And what about the hard evidence? US research has shown that Fortune 500 companies with the highest proportion of female directors are more profitable and efficient than those with the lowest. And according to research by McKinsey, the strategy consultancy, European organisations with the highest proportion of women in influential leadership roles, showed better than average financial performance.
Perhaps Ms Pease ought to take a look!