The report, Gender Diversity in the Boardroom, also found that 44% of businesses have not even heard of Lord Davies’ target for 25% female representation on company boards by 2015.
Most businesses are also unaware of the government’s Think, Act, Report initiative – a step-by-step framework for improving gender equality in the workplace. Only 17% of businesses said they had heard of it.
CIPD public policy adviser on diversity Dianah Worman said: “Organisations need to be aware of initiatives such as ‘Think, Act, Report’ in order to encourage more women to progress to [senior] positions.”
She added: “Boardroom diversity is not a numbers game and not just about women. It is also not just about the boardroom, but rather understanding and monitoring the entire workforce in order to create clear talent pipelines which allow women to reach the top.”
The CIPD has called for the government to introduce a separate voluntary target of at least 20% female executive directors on FTSE 100 boards by 2020. While women now represent more than 20% of FTSE 100 board members, the biggest gains have been in the non-executive space, with the percentage of women in executive board positions still low.
Worman said: “The gains in the main have been made in non-executive positions whereas the numbers for women in the top spot executive positions and visible to the wider organisation still only accounts for 8.4%.”
Minister for women & equalities Jo Swinson urged businesses to “keep up the momentum” and “continue championing talented women to deliver lasting change”.
She said: “The potential threat of EU mandatory targets should be at the forefront of companies’ minds, if they are unable to show that they are doing their part to improve gender diversity.”
The CIPD research found 60% of respondents are against mandatory quotas but that 53% agreed the government should set a more ambitious voluntary target to improve gender diversity in boardrooms post-2015.