Poor representation of women at boardroom level is a global issue, but does it look like it will change any time soon?
“We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else’s turn.”
Britain has failed to see a significant change in the number of women holding the most senior positions at any of its biggest companies in the last 10 years, despite a push from the government to boost gender diversity. The proportion of female chief executives in the UK stands at just eight percent — a lowly two percent increase from 10 years ago.
The US has a slightly higher representation, with 19.8% of board members being women, and more than 70% of businesses having at least one woman on the board. That said, the tech sector specifically is seriously lagging behind. More than 30% of public company tech boards have no female representation at all. That percentage rises to a staggering 74% for private tech companies.
The Importance of Women at Boardroom Level
Breaking Gender Boundaries?
A recent survey by global tech recruiter Anderson Frank revealed that, while the number of women in the sector was rising, there were still concerns regarding their positions on the board. A third of respondents felt there was not an equal representation at board level in their company, while 32% also thought their company wasn’t gender diverse at any level.
In the tech sector, the likes of IBM, Xerox, and Yahoo took the leap and are headed by ambitious female executives. Although they’re in the minority, women are starting to be counted in major companies. While the tech working-world may be very much a male-dominated field (for now), this isn’t the case with their far-more-balanced target audience of tech consumers. Women on the board can help represent this fairly.
Bridging The Gender Gap
A number of major companies such as PepsiCo also have women at the helm, though they remain in the minority: less than five percent of firms have a female CEO. The best sectors for women to currently work in if they’re looking to reach the top include finance, healthcare, and telecommunications.
With the worldwide press discussing the gender pay gap at length, it’s certainly time that companies focus not only on equal pay, but also equal gender representation. Promoting corporate diversity is a no-brainer for any socially responsible company. There’s even evidence to suggest that organizations with more women active at board level generate higher profits.
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The Bottom Line
A report by Credit Suisse found that companies with at least one female director recorded a better return on their investments. It also found that organizations where senior management was at least 15% female were 50% more profitable than those where less than 10% of senior management were women.
In fact, women in senior positions can reduce a company’s expenditure, as they are more likely to methodically collaborate on a project instead of just throwing money at it.
But it’s not just a monetary issue. There is also an ethical dilemma to go alongside the importance of women at boardroom level. All sectors in the workforce have an ethical duty to decrease the disparity of men and women on the boards of major companies.
One thing is for certain: women, while currently underrepresented at the highest levels, have a lot to offer to companies, and the men up top need to start noting their importance.
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