“All the ‘good’ women have been snapped up” is just one excuse for lack of women in FTSE boardrooms


“All the ‘good’ women have been snapped up” has been revealed as just one of the excuses given for the lack of women in FTSE boardrooms.

Businesses also claimed that women “don’t fit in” in a boardroom, or that they simply “didn’t want the hassle of sitting on a board.”

The excuses, given by leading businesses to explain the lack of female representation on boards, were revealed in a government-backed review of gender balance in the FTSE 350.

The review was released by the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) ahead of the Hampton-Alexander Review reaching its halfway mark in June.

Excuses given included:

  • “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 a board – the issues covered are extremely complex.”
  • “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”
  • “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”
  • “My other board colleagures wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board.”
  • “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”
  • “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn.”
  • “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman.”
  • “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector.”
  • I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to.”

Speaking about the review, Business Minister, Andrew Griffiths said, “It’s shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from top jobs.”

“Our most successful companies are those that champion diversity.”

Fiona Hathorn from Women on Boards UK says that members sadly report hearing comments like the excuses listed “all the time”.

She said, “Stupid comments from men on FTSE boards is why WOB exists.”

“We provide information, encouragement and connections to help women get to the top within their own company or to take on a board or committee role as a non executive director (NED), trustee or governor.”

“We are breaking down the barriers to entry to the boardroom and building the pipeline of board-ready women.”

“Someone has to do it!”

Helene Reardon-Bond OBE, former Director of Gender Equality for the UK government and senior civil service adviser to both the Davies and Hampton-Alexander Reviews, added, “Well done to the Hampton Review for highlighting the pathetic lame excuses made by some senior business men as to why they think women aren’t fit to be on the boards of leading companies.”

“Getting more women to the top of organisations will significantly help to close the gender pay gap.”

“This isn’t just good for women it makes complete economic sense for the UK too.”

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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