18 Apr Gender Diversity: It’s a Leadership Thing
You can’t look too far these days without coming across something in the news about “Gender Diversity”
or “Women in Leadership”.
There is pressure in the market, and expectation from the government, that British Business – specifically the FTSE100 – will lead the way in creating “Balanced Boardrooms” with at least 25% female representation by the end of 2015.
Since his initial report “Women on Boards”, published in 2011, Lord Davies has recently reported that the FTSE100 is making significant progress towards that goal with women now occupying 20.7% of all FTSE100 board seats. However, he is not resting on his laurels. The pressure is intensifying and he is “naming and shaming” those companies who are failing to make progress, claiming that those companies that “do not get the mood of society on this issue, actually deserve to go out of business.”
So, whilst there has been a 12.5% increase of women occupying FTSE 100 board seats over the last 36 months, what are these statistics not telling us? Of the FTSE100, there are still 64 companies that have yet to achieve 25% female representation at board level and two companies still have all male boards. Of the FTSE 250, there are 48 companies with all male boards. So what is really going on here? What is the root-cause of the Gender Diversity issue and why is it taking some companies such a long time to shift the balance of their workforce? Let’s take a closer look by examining the business case that sits behind Gender Diversity.
Diversity and Inclusion is a hot topic in the world of business, particularly Gender Diversity. What is all the fuss about? Why can’t we just get on with running our companies and wait for this whole thing to “run its course?”
Newsflash – This “thing” is not going away – it is here for the long run, with quotas looming round the corner, so you need to be thinking tactically and strategically about it now!
First thing is first
First thing is first; let’s get the debate out of the way. Balanced workforces outperform those that are not – yielding a 42% increase in return on sales, a 66% increase in return on invested capital and a 53% increase in return on equity. Gender Diversity is no longer considered an ethical issue; it is a strategic imperative for any company looking to improve performance.
So why are so many (64% of the FTSE 100) organisations struggling to hit the 25% goal? In order to answer that question we need to understand what is happening to the Female Talent Pipeline within many organisations.
On average, 60% of graduates in the UK are female and many of the FTSE100 organisations ensure that at least 50% of their graduate in-take is female. Following a significant investment in Attraction, Recruitment and On-boarding, many of these graduates embark upon a 12-24 month graduate programme which delivers on the “Employer Brand Promise,” laying a foundation for their career path within the organisation.