“I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment” is one of the excuses given by FTSE 350 chairs and CEOs to the team behind the government’s executive gender diversity campaign, for failing to appoint women on to boards.
The comment, revealed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, was provided during the Hampton-Alexander Review, which sets out that one-third of FTSE leadership positions are filled by women by 2020.
Other “explanations” for failing to appoint women on to boards include: “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”; “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done—it is someone else’s turn”; and “most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”.
Business minister Andrew Griffiths said: “It’s shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from the top jobs.”
Chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review Sir Philip Hampton said such excuses were heard “regularly” a few years ago, “thankfully much less so now”.
However, many leaders were still doing little to appoint women into top jobs, Sir Philip added.
Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, said that while the comments read “like a script from a comedy parody”, both gender pay gap reporting and the increased focus on equality and diversity means more women are on boards than ever before.
In a comment article for Board Agenda, Legal and General Investment Management’s Clare Payn said the firm would vote against management if it notices “ill-conceived or poorly implemented diversity policies”.
The number of all-male FTSE 350 company boards fell to ten in November 2017, from 152 six years earlier.