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Saturday, 24th February 2024


The discussion on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning was about quotas in the Boardroom for women - at present there are only 12.5% women on the Corporate Boardroom in Britain, and this is seen to be unfair and should rise to a much higher percentage to be representative. There are many Boards which are even all male.

One advantage of quotas is that they force change where there is intransigence and where the barriers are sharp. A disadvantage is that they can lead to tokenism. Also our research shows that culturally, there is a resistance to quotas in the Boardroom in Britain - they are seen as an infringement of executive choice and freedom.

So how then do we achieve change?

The root problem we have found from our research is not necessarily about gender, but about the whole culture of power and governance in the British boardroom. Generally, executives do not like challenge nor do they welcome it - they prefer sameness to difference. Yet we know that for robust organisations, power has to be open to scrutiny and questioning. For public quoted companies, management need to be reminded that they are agents rather than owners.

So here are the possible solutions to this dilemma:

  • An education and training programme for executives on Boardroom culture and diversity, and the commercial benefits of difference
  • A legal requirement for diversity and equality in the Boardroom, which also includes cultural diversity and other minorities such as disabled people - the top is not exempt from equality
  • A secondment scheme for possible new non-executives on Boards to open the talent pool
  • A cultural mapping of the organisation, its products and services and its staffing to see how representative is the talent pool

We look forward to your comments.

Article added on 9th February 2012 at 9:29am