‘I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment’
‘There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex’
‘Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board’
These are just some of the shocking excuses from FTSE 350 companies following a recent report by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, to challenge diversity in UK Company Board rooms.
These comments might not have seemed out of place in 1918, but 100 years on they are truly shocking and reveals the extent of the task in hand to break down the archaic thinking and stereotypes that still dominate too many cultures.
Embracing diversity and recognising each unique human being for their talent and skills is not just the right thing to do but it makes absolute business sense. Humanising our workplaces so that every individual feels cared for and valued is the foundation for changing mindsets and entrenched views of the world. Treating all people fairly, irrespective of gender or any other characteristic, and basing promotional and leadership decisions on merit and contribution should just be the norm, but sadly too many organisations still fail to grasp this.
The responsibility for driving this change rests with leaders, although every single individual has an active role to play in challenging such outdated and damaging thinking. I think more diverse and inclusive Board rooms can only help to accelerate the change and the sooner this happens the better. Undoubtedly some progress is being made, but this report in 2018 highlights just how far we still have to go to achieve true equality at Board level in UK businesses.