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FTSE 250: where are all the women?

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Interesting report in the Times yesterday revealing that more than 40 per cent of the FTSE 250 – the companies just outside the FTSE 100 of top multinationals – have no female boardroom representation. Shocking.

Culprits include the construction giant Balfour Beatty, the retailer JD Sports Fashion, the internet group MoneySupermarket.com, the bingo and betting group Rank, the housebuilder Bovis Homes, the pub companies Greene King and Mitchells & Butlers, the bus and train operator FirstGroup and the trucking group Stobart.

The excuses? 

“We’re seeking to recruit.” 

“We’re ‘between women’ right now.” 

Or, in the case of digital entertainment company bwin.party: “We’ve set targets for next year.” (It plans to have at least one woman on the board by next year and two by 2015.)

Lord Davies last year recommended that FTSE 100 firms should be aiming for a minimum of 25 per cent female board-member representation by 2015. But his report stopped short of quotas – or penalties if companies don’t comply.

To date, 17 companies in the FTSE 100 have reached the 25 per cent target. Says Lord Davies: “Efforts need to be ramped up and the speed of change accelerated if we’re to avoid government interference.”

Companies are coming out with empty promises and excuses. Women doubt their own talents.

A study out last week by Ashridge Business School, based on 1,400 female managers, finds half believe it is harder for women to succeed at work compared with men, with the majority citing a lack of belief in their own ability as a key barrier. 

Are we stuck between a rock and a hard place?

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