People Business » Companies use ‘pitiful and patronising’ excuses for lack of women in the boardroom

Leaders and executives of British companies use some ‘pitiful and patronising’ excuses to exclude women from the boardroom, a report on gender balance has revealed.

Some of CEOs and leaders of UKs biggest firms gave some shocking explanations about the lack of women in senior leadership roles, including excuses such as “they don’t fit in”, “they don’t want the hassle”,  “shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?” and “all the good ones have already gone”.

Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, said: “As you read this list of excuses you might think it’s 1918 not 2018. It reads like a script from a comedy parody but it’s true. Surely we can now tackle this once and for all.”

The government-backed Hampton-Alexander review is led by Sir Philip Hampton and challenged all FTSE 350 companies to achieve at least one-third of their board members and leadership to be female.

The number of board positions by women in FTSE 100 companies is already up, 28% compared to 12.5% in 2011, and the number of all-male FTSE company boards fell from 152 in 2011 to 10 in 2017.

But business minister Andrew Griffiths warned companies have a lot more work to do.

“It’s shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from the top jobs. Our most successful companies are those that champion diversity,” he said.

Chair of the review, Sir Philip Hampton, said: “Around a third of FTSE 350 companies still have very few women either on their boards or in senior leadership roles. We used to hear these excuses regularly a few years ago, thankfully much less so now.

“However, leaders expressing warm words of support but actually doing very little to appoint women into top jobs – or quietly blocking progress – are really not much better.”

Launched in 2016, The Hampton-Alexander review is a study of gender representation and will reach its halfway point on June 27, when the latest figures will be published for the number of women on FTSE 350 boards.

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