Blog : BOARD TALK
|Posted on September 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM|
I have new insight into what it is like to be Vince Cable, UK Business Secretary, trying to bring about what is considered in the UK to be 'seismic change' when it comes to the progression of women in business - on boards as non-executive directors, and as part of an executive team.
I have to say I do not envy him.
At the very start of a roundtable discussion this afternoon with members of the business community- one of many held by the Department of Business to look at this issue - Dr Cable asked: 'Where would you go from here if you were me?'
I was taken aback by both the honesty of the question - and the sheer potential for an innovative response of some capacity. But, judging by what I heard (as an invited 'fly on the wall') I cannot say the same for the financial services institutions represented. They included HSBC, Lloyds Bank, London Stock Exchange, Standard Chartered, RBS, Standard Life, Resolution, Direct Line and more.
Let's just establish a few facts first for the UK (The stats are from BIS as of today, the opinion is mine):
- We are not doing badly compared to many countries: as of August 2013, 94% of FTSE100 boards have female representation
- BUT break it down - women account for 22%of non-executive directorships and 5.6% of executive directorships
- We were doing quite well w/momentum until March 1, 2013; since then women have accounted for 12% of all board appointments - 0% of new executive directors are women
- FTSE250 is a pleasant surprise: since March 1, 2013 39% of new NED roles have been secured by women and 50% executive directorships have gone to women
- FTSE250: 76% of boards now have female representation
- Is it the perception of the NED role that has to change (in order for us to fill it differently) ?
- The way the (exec) role is defined will have to change as many men want to be home (to bath two sons aged 5 nd 7 and then pick it up again said one senior FS man)
- We need to marry the best of creativity and outside experience into financial services - how do we do it ?
- CBI emphasised the need for healthy 'cross-over' among industry sectors
- You can actually fill NED positions if you settle for candidates 'a level below where you might have done in the past'
- There is great merit in keeping the debate more broadly on 'diversity' than just 'gender'