HR and diversity professionals say getting women into board positions may be
hampered by a lack of drive to change the status quo.
With women making up only 7.25 per cent of all FTSE 100 board directors,
delegates at the conference doubted whether there is enough political energy
and will to ensure more women reach the top of their organisations.
Many believed that women generally were not prepared to play the political
games necessary to climb the management ladder and the business case for it was
not proven to the majority of men controlling UK organisations.
Delegates heard that the Cabinet Office was making headway, having set
targets for women in senior positions.
Museji Takolia, senior adviser of diversity strategy and equal
opportunities, said that by 2004-2005, the Cabinet Office expected women to
make up 35 per cent of its workforce. Last year, that figure had already
reached 24 per cent. By the end of next year, 25 per cent of the top 600 senior
jobs in the Civil Service should be held by women.
"Women outperform men in the Civil Service, but they are still not
promoted and progressed at a rate in proportion to that performance," he
Lorraine Vaun-Davis, career development consultant at the Nationwide
Building Society, complained that too many senior women fail to speak and
network with each other, unlike their male counterparts. She said 75 per cent
of the workforce at Nationwide are women, but none are at director level.
Obstacles to female progression
– The current poor recruitment climate
– Attitudes among male colleagues
– Flexible working not happening at middle/senior levels
– Too many assumptions made about what it takes to be successful