11 Dec 2012, Tom Newcombe, HRO
The survey, which took place at a panel event in London yesterday, with over 70 senior corporate directors, hosted by former banker and MP Lord Mervyn Davies, shows that there is unanimous agreement that women are under-represented in UK boardrooms.
It claims that the biggest obstacles to improvement are management perceptions of gender roles, cited by 43% of respondents, and family commitments (cited by 32%).
When asked about the single most helpful measure that would increase the representation of women on boards, the top three elements that senior directors pointed to were a more diverse pool of candidates, a focus on flexible working conditions, and more female role models.
Davies commented: "The absence of female representation on UK boards has been a huge lost opportunity and it's vital that companies redress the gender imbalance.
"However we have seen major signs of progress in the last 18 months: 45% of those joining UK boards have been women, and in 50% of cases this is their first appointment.
"But more needs to be done in order for women to feel confident that they can earn a place on a board."
He added: "I believe the introduction of quotas would be a big mistake but we have to maintain the drive for change as there are still far too many companies with very few or no women at the top table."
Simon Lough, CEO of Heartwood, said: "It's encouraging to see that attitudes towards female board representation are changing, and exchanging ideas on how the current obstacles can be overcome plays a key role in expediting this process.
"UK boardrooms need to change with the times - a more diverse boardroom creates a more rounded and innovative management process."