Ann Billson Ross’ LinkedIn post telling us that Taylor Wimpey was named as a ‘Best Practice Leader’ in the European Women on Boards Gender Equality Index Report prompted me to watch the EWOB (European Women On Boards) Gender Diversity Awards YouTube webinar. Thank you Ann!
I was keen to understand the work that companies have been doing to work towards greater gender equality.
The EWOB (European Women on Boards) have set a target to reach 40% women in the boardroom by 2025 and they have highlighted the best examples of those who are starting to achieve it (albeit slowly).
They focused on four drivers of change:
- The European Commission
- Individual Countries
- Each of you
We should (by now) all understand that diversity is a business benefit. We should be embracing it as it leads to more successful organisations. So why is it still so difficult to achieve?
PROGRESS IS SLOW
It appears that 10 years of voluntary measure to achieve gender equality haven’t worked. The glass ceiling is far from being chipped away at, let alone smashed. Progress is just not fast enough
So, when change does not come naturally, targets and legislation become necessary. Interestingly, those countries that have quota targets, whether they be hard quotas or soft quotas fare much better than those with no targets at all.
France has introduced breakthrough legislation into LAW that companies have 30% women at executive level by 2027 and 40% by 2030. This is a really big action.
The Netherlands have introduced mandatory quotas. The new law introduces a gradual entry quota for listed companies which requires their supervisory boards to consist of at least one-third of men and at least one-third of women.
Additionally, companies committed to targets make significant progress vs. those with no targets at all. Companies can lead and drive change – and that commitment comes from the top.
WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS DONE
The best companies are SETTING OBJECTIVES, MEASURING PROGRESS and REPORTING. Structural inclusion works much more effectively than behavioural (eg. unconscious bias training), although behavioural is still important.
MAKE SURE YOU REALLY UNDERSTAND THE STATISTICS
The numbers can be misleading. Although a larger number of women are now non-executive directors and have an influence on company strategy, the number of female executive board members remains low – and these are the people responsible for the implementation (and therefore have the real power). Still only 7% of CEOs are women.
LOOK BEYOND THE TRADITIONAL HUNTING GROUND
Last year we spoke to Alastair Paton, Managing Partner, Europe at the global executive search firm August Leadership.
His views were also reiterated in the webinar – that we need to be looking beyond the traditional hunting ground to find the amazing women out there who could make a real difference on our boards.
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
The webinar finishes with advice for individuals:
- Develop your personal narrative
- Leverage you network
- Engage with executive search companies
KEEP CHIPPING AWAY!