'Companies need to aim for more ambitious targets for women on boards'

'Companies need to aim for more ambitious targets for women on boards'

Targets of 40 per cent men, 40 per cent women and 20 per cent mixed are achievable at board level, according to a new organisation which aims to promote more women on the UK's boards.

Women on Boards was first set up in Australia and is launching across the UK this week.

Women on Boards co-founder and director, Claire Braund, says: "To use the FTSE100 as an example, there are nearly 1,100 director positions in total which turn over at less than 15 per cent per year. In numerical terms this means around 130 director positions are up for election."

"When it comes to other sectors, such as building societies, charities, the public sector and sport to name but a few, the skills and expertise sought on boards is more varied and the field of potential candidates becomes very much larger - again opening up many opportunities for aspirant female directors.”

Braund says she does not subscribe to the argument that there are insufficient women in the pipeline. "Our experience in Australia is that there are many women with the capacity to serve on boards, but lack of transparency in selection processes, narrow definitions of the skills and experience required and a tendency to 'recruit in their own image' means women do not get to the starting gate when it comes to applying for board roles.”

UK Managing Director, Fiona Hathorn, says: “It is up to FTSE companies, chairs and search firms to turn off the spotlight and turn on the floodlight when it came to considering new directors for boards.”

Women on Boards advocates for gender targets across organisations. At executive and senior leadership levels the percentage of females should approximately reflect the gender split in graduate intakes, it says.

"More than ever companies in all sectors need new thinking, new blood and new people with different experiences. Many of them could get this by simply appointing a few more women into top roles. Not really rocket science, but many women are starting to think it might be easier to get to the moon," says Hathorn.

Women on Boards will track the number of women on the boards of companies in many sectors in its annual Boardroom Diversity Index.

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