Women on the Board

A recent study by the United Kingdom’s Equal Opportunities Commission reckons that it will take 40 years for women to gain parity with men in the Boardroom, if current performance continues. In a comparative study of the top 50 companies in European countries, the UK has 14% of women on the Board. (The worst was Germany with 12% and the best was Norway at 21%).

This makes me wonder whether the Norwegians are onto something with their new legislation that requires companies to have 40% women directors? Quotas do seem to have made a difference in the USA, where 100% of the United States’ Fortune 100 companies have at least one woman on their Boards.

But quotas seem to me to be a blunt instrument to solve the “problem” and could lead to the appointment of women in jobs because of their gender rather than their capability to do the job.

I wonder whether one of the reasons that we are struggling to get women into the Boardroom, is that this is a very male/hierarchical career path, which many women simply cannot be bothered to pursue. Is the rise in the number of women-owned businesses a sign that they actually prefer another way of doing business?

Is there an alternative to quotas? Should we be worrying about getting more women into the Boardroom? And I’m presuming that the poor representation of women is nothing compared to the representation of ethnic minorities.

Madeleine McGrath posted this on January 19, 2006, in Trend$.
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