New government, new fight for women?

There have been a number of articles recently about the lack of women in the boardroom of UK firms – the Guardian said ‘companies have employed armies of equal opportunities officers, diversity managers and HR professionals’ to sort this problem out, yet the ‘number of women on the boards of FTSE 100 has hardly changed’. In fact figures reveal that in 2009 only 12% of FTSE 100 companies had one or more women on their board.

So why is this case? Is it because women often take time off at some stage of their career to bring up their children and when they do return they have missed their opportunity; or that in a male dominated world, women are often overlooked by men on the board who like to recruit in their own image? These may very well be reasons why some women have missed out but how are we going to turn this situation around?

If we look elsewhere in the world we can see that there are big differences – take Norway where the government insists that at least 40% of board positions must be female. Spain also insists that companies where there are more than 250 employees develop a gender equality plan.

These figures speak for themselves; women are clearly underrepresented on the board of UK companies so will the new government make steps towards improving the situation? The Equality Bill is due to come in soon but is that enough? Despite Gordon Brown promising more action to get women into the boardroom, we have woken up today to a hung parliament and the prospect of new leaders. It remains to be seen who will be running things for the next few years, but whoever it is let’s see what they do to increase the number of women in the boardroom – we certainly hope it is put firmly on the agenda!

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