The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook has been following closely the Government’s drive to increase the proportion of women in British boardrooms and will be publishing the results in the next edition
In February this year David Cameron warned that the lack of women in Britain’s boardrooms is holding back the country’s economic recovery. The Prime Minister said there was clear evidence to signal that ending Britain’s male-dominated business culture would improve economic performance.
At present, just 15% of FTSE 100 directors are women.
In the last year, 27% of board-level appointments at FTSE 100 companies have gone to female applicants, but one in ten of Britain’s biggest firms still have all-male boards.
A Government-commissioned report last year said quotas should be imposed unless top firms acted to increase the number of women on their boards to at least one in four by 2015.
Mr Cameron pledged to learn lessons from Nordic and Baltic countries as he joined eight of their leaders for a summit in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. He said:
“The drive for more women in business is not simply about equal opportunity, it’s about effectiveness.
“It’s about quality, not just equality. That’s why one of the things we’ll be discussing in Sweden is what other countries are doing to help women become entrepreneurs and take up leading positions in business.
“Women now make up nearly half the workforce across Europe and the majority of university degrees. But they are still not sufficiently represented at the senior boardroom level.
“The evidence is that there is a positive link between women in leadership and business performance, so if we fail to unlock the potential of women in the labour market, we’re not only failing those individuals, we’re failing our whole economy.
“We’re already helping women to set up and grow their own business in the UK. But the Nordic and Baltic countries are leading the way in Europe, with female representation on boards far above the EU average.
“So I want to get ideas in Stockholm that we can take back to London to explore if they could help us get more women into British boardrooms, boosting profits and contributing to the economic growth we all urgently need”.
Last November the Home Secretary announced funding to recruit and train 5,000 mentors as part of a package of support for women in business. The Department for Business revealed a further 10,000 mentors would be recruited to support both male and female entrepreneurs.
Today the Home Secretary announced the fact that thousands of successful women have joined the drive to kick-start growth by mentoring other women wanting to succeed in business.
Inspirational mentoring champions include Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins and Dawn Russell, who survived cancer and now runs her own foundation aimed at boosting self-worth in young women.
Other high-profile ambassadors promoting mentoring include Hallett Retail founder Wendy Hallett and digital business entrepreneur Penny Power.
Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May said:
“Women are vital to Britain’s economic future and the support of a mentor will help even more of them fulfil their true potential.
“The Government is working hard to help women make the most of their talents, but we cannot act alone. I’m delighted by these mentors’ commitment to helping budding businesswomen succeed – and to making Britain prosper.”
The Home Secretary also announced updates to a range of additional support for women in business:
- Think, Act, Report – case studies are being published today showing how adopting the principles behind the Government’s voluntary approach to diversity at work has helped leading firms – including BT, Tesco and Ernst & Young – reap business rewards
- Women’s Business Council – the council is today publishing the work programme for its one-year mission to identify and break down the barriers to female success
- Women and banks – the government is revealing the initial findings of its review to ensure women have equal access to the finance they need to start a business
The Home Office also published today details of a £2m programme to help female entrepreneurs in rural areas start or build their own business.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said:
“’Britain has many talented women who will thrive as these Rural Growth Networks give them the tools they need to launch or develop their own businesses.
“Women are about half as likely as men to become entrepreneurs and we need to harness their untapped skills. Living in a rural area can also present specific challenges that these projects aim to address.”
The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Year book will continue to report on the progress of the measures as we go through the months ahead.