Career Woman

Why we need more women in the boardroom


It will come as no surprise to learn there is a lack of women in the world’s boardrooms; which means that there is a complete lack of diversity and businesses are not serving their customers in the best way possible. In a report released only last year, it was found that the number of women holding the most senior jobs in the boardrooms of the largest companies had fallen. The 20th FTSE Women on Boards Report criticized the lack of progress made by businesses in getting more women to the top and showed a significant drop in the number of women in Chief Executive Officer, chief financial officer and other executive roles on FTSE 250 boards.

Not only were the numbers not really that shocking because it’s common knowledge that there is inequality in the workplace as well as a lack of diversity, but the numbers from this report were extremely disappointing.

The excuses given for women being underrepresented in the boardroom have also been disappointing and according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, reasons for the low numbers included: “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”;  “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”; and “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn”.

Luckily new initiatives and change have started to make progress. However, we are in 2019 now, so we really should be much further forward. For example, in London last year, The Mayor, Sadiq Khan launched a new plan to tackle the lack of women leaders in the UK. The initiative was called ‘Our Time: Supporting Future Leaders’ and was part of the #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign. It was the first and largest-scale program of its kind to be adopted in the public sector in the UK, and it aimed to take urgent action to address the gender imbalance in leadership roles, and bridge the gender pay gap.

It’s not the first time this issue has been addressed but in the past, the solutions have been mentoring and fast-track training for female leaders and while these have gone some way to improve things it has not been enough. Thanks to women standing up for themselves and their rights, there have been improvements in flexible working and return to work policies, but yet we are still reading headlines about the gender pay gap.

While many companies have now implemented flexible working hours or job-sharing, there are still some ‘unofficial’ attitudes and organizational cultures that exist and need to be addressed. People worry that if they take the opportunity to work flexible hours, they won’t be taken seriously in the workplace, and they will struggle to progress in their career. The initiative in London aimed to address these kinds of institutional norms went above and beyond what’s been tried before, and will hopefully continue to make a positive impact.

The benefits of having a more diverse team are endless. Having a boardroom which is filled with a number of different mindsets, different approaches, and various inputs might cause more debates and even arguments, but it will also create far better results for your company.

Having more diversity will mean an increase in creativity across products, services, and processes. There is no point having a team of men sat in a boardroom discussing a product or service which women are the target market. Men and women think differently and will see things the other won’t. Not only that, they will know from their own experience as a customer, as a woman or as a mother or as a man or as a brother – what they require from a product or a service.

With more creativity, more minds, there will no doubt be more diversification to new and different markets, which will lead to a broader customer base for your company. A room full of different people making decisions will know how a service or product will affect them and will know what changes or tweaks could be made to suit them and other people like them.

As your company grows and offers more, you will find that you are attracting more talent, giving more reward and recognition and there’ll be a better talent pool to recruit from, which will mean even more growth and diversity.

Finally, all of the above will no doubt give your company an increase in market share.

But apart from the fast-tracking and mentoring already mentioned, how can we get more women in the boardroom? Going back to London’s initiative, this one focussed on the power and knowledge each leader had to offer the other person, instead of previous schemes which have often been about finding a woman to link with another woman. So many senior leadership positions in organizations are filled by white men over the age of forty, so it is essential to put the women with the right person, not just a more senior woman than themselves.

In the UK, it is now it is compulsory for organizations with over 250 employees to publish their salaries, which means that we can see the gender pay gaps. This has meant that more and more organizations are sitting up and taking inequality seriously. It’s about time. The more that do this and the more that proactively create diverse working cultures will see the benefits even if there are some rough edges to be smoothed out in the early days.

A recent study found that “While homogeneous groups felt more confident about their decisions than diverse groups, the former groups’ decisions were more often wrong compared to those of diverse groups.”

This makes complete sense, and as countries become more mixed and more diverse, then it’s time that companies accommodate this and what better way to start than including more representatives from one half of the population?

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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