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Hot topic: Higher women on boards targets, part two

FTSE 100 firms met a voluntary 25% women on boards target, but Lord Davies suggested we should take this further

Is 33% women on FTSE 350 boards by 2020 a realistic target? What can HR do to help their organisations reach it?

Phil Smith, UK&I chief executive at Cisco International, said:

"The call from Lord Davies to raise the bar further is clearly a challenge, but not one UK businesses can afford to shirk. It is essential they acknowledge and act on the role they play not only in ensuring the development of women through their ranks, but inspiring women to enter industries still perceived as male dominated, such as the technology, construction and finance sectors.

To achieve longer term gender parity in the boardroom, I believe industries need to collaboratively keep educating students, parents and teachers alike about the fascinating career opportunities STEM skills unlock, or we will face a constant struggle for female talent.

Role models can play a fundamental part in encouraging young women to follow a career path they may not have previously considered. High profile role models, such as Martha Lane Fox or Karen Brady, are undeniably very powerful, but they’re not the only ones.

Organisations must also assess their recruitment processes, not just in relation to gender, but to ensure diversity across the business. At Cisco we encourage this approach early on when recruiting to ensure that we employ the most talented people. For current employees, companies should also ensure they have the appropriate processes and programmes in place to ensure women rise up through the ranks.

Cisco Connected Women, a global programme for developing Cisco’s female talent, is an example of how internal networks can function. The group focuses on three areas: internal networking and development, inspiring the next generation of leaders, and creating business and social impact."