Blog : BOARD TALK
|Posted on February 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM|
There's something lurking in the UK in the depths of darkest February - and it isn't just the prospect of more testing weather.
The second anniversary of the launch of the review by Lord Davies on the lack of women in the boardrooms of our plcs is almost upon us. It was February 24, 2011 when the UK government first launched its initiative to try and uncover why women are so under-represented there, and to do something about it. (On February 7 that year, in anticipation, this blog was launched, so I guess it's Happy 2nd birthday to Us tomorrow).
There has been an awful lot of hot air generated since then, but there has also been progress and useful discussion. For a start, it is now clear that the real need, and the slower 'burn' is in fixing the shocking state of the executive female pipeline. Shocking both because it has taken so long for us to address this issue and because the wastage of human capital is acute - and expensive - at a time when our businesses are trying desperately to become more productive.
Many people have done their utmost to jump upon the 'boardwagon' en route. But a company that stands out in its message is Talking Talent - take a look at its website, a rare example in my (very fussy) view of good communication.
On the site is the latest research based on a survey of 2,500 women in the UK - entitled 'Up, Out Or Different.' It's worth reading, but the most dramatic point it makes is that almost 50% of those surveyed "consider career crossroads as a significant barrier to career progress: the number one barrier across age ranges and majority of levels." (my emphasis)
As the research shows, although motherhood is an important 'pinch point' in career decisions, it's not important only to those who are about to start a family, it's seen as a 'barrier' no matter how old you are. Faced with rigid career structures, women may well bail out, find another company, or do something different altogether.
From this study, the evidence suggests that if you ask them, women will tell you what it is they think they need - more self-confidence, better networking and behavioural skills on the way up the ladder. In my experience, the biggest obstacle to change is lack of self-awareness - once you identify the issues it shouldn't involve rocket science to make things better, but it takes time.
By now each UK plc should know that it needs to do its own measurement, kick-start its own communication, take down those real or perceived barriers and grow its own people - or that expensive resource walks out the door.
Because whatever your opinions on the success or failure of the Davies Review, being 'unaware' each and every plc needs to do a great deal more on diversity and inclusion is no longer a credible stance, two years on.