Equality rules have only managed to raise women’s representation on company boards to 10%

Progress for women company directors is being made, despite the discouraging findings of the Equal Opportunities Commission’s (EOC) latest Sex and Power report, according to the CBI.

The report found that only 10% of women were on the board at FTSE 100 companies and claimed that it would take 60 years for women to match their male colleagues.

However, Susan Anderson, the CBI’s director of HR policy, said: “Women are still under-represented in senior positions and more progress must be made, but it is encouraging that an increasing number of women are becoming directors, particularly from the younger age groups.

“While the EOC draws attention to the fact that only 10% of directors of FTSE 100 companies are female, women make up 23% of directorships across all companies and 28% of directors aged 18 to 29 are women. This bodes well for the future.”

Nine in 10 UK employers offer flexible working policies which are attracting more women back to the workplace, Anderson said.

Helen Ackroyd, business services director from the Adecco recruitment firm, also dismissed the report’s findings.

“During my 20 years in recruitment I have never experienced any form of discrimination or ‘glass ceilings’ for simply being a female. That is not to say, however, that statistics do not currently suggest otherwise for a number of female workers,” she said.

Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC, described the report – which also estimated that it would take 200 years for women to reach senior-level roles in the House of Commons – as troubling. “It just shows how slow the pace of change has been in powerful British institutions,” she said.

“In business, no-one can afford to fish in half the talent pool in today’s intensely competitive world,” Watson added.

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