A damaging appointment

untitled (240)On Sunday the Government in the form of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced the creation of an independent review on increasing representation of women in the executive level of FTSE 350 companies. The review follows on from a previous Women on Boards Review, an initiative which helped to increase the number of women on boards in the FTSE 100 rise from 12.5% to beyond the target of 25%. This new review is attempting to go beyond the outcome of the Women on Boards review and impact the number of women within FTSE 350 companies at senior levels, from where the boards draw their executive members. However as with all such reviews one of the challenging issues is who will lead it. The previous review was led by former banker and Government Minister, Lord Mervyn Davies which was perhaps an odd appointment bearing in mind the subject matter, but the steering board for the review was made up of 6 other people, 4 of whom were women. When the latest review was announced we discovered that it will be led by another Peer, Sir Philip Hampton The Chair of GlaxoSmithKline, and former Chair of RBS and Sainsbury’s. Now to be fair to this review the Government have also appointed a deputy chair who will be Dame Helen Alexander, Chair of UBM who is pictured, so at least before this independent review begins to select its board members, there will be a prominent women in a leading role. However it seems incredibly stupid of the Government to not understand how damaging it would be to select a man to lead this review. Once again the sense of paternalism and patronage will be demonstrated in the make up of the review itself. Perhaps Helen Alexander was unwilling to lead the review, perhaps there are no suitable women to lead it. A powerful message would be made if Philip Hampton decided that he should not lead this review and offer to serve on it providing a suitable women be found to lead it. This is not about tokenism, it is about cultural change and sending a powerful message to both Government and big business that leadership is not always a matter of being seen to be in charge. After all this next phase of the review will focus on building the pipeline for female executives and emerging non-executive directors, to continue the work already done on increasing board representation. We don’t want to perpetuate the image of men opening the door to senior posts, we instead need to give voice to women to explain what barriers they find along the way including how to open the door for themselves.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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