Just yesterday Viviene Reding, European Union justice commissioner, tweeted “It’s done.  The Commission has adopted my proposal for a European law so that women represent 40% of company board members by 2020”

Lynette Allen, Founder of Her Invitation says that companies should take this as a serious warning to put gender diversity at the very top of their agenda’s.  “This is serious”, she says, “Women have never wanted to make up the numbers and be given preferential treatment but quotas are on their way”.  Final plans need approval from the European Parliament and Council of Ministers but Reding is convinced they will be passed.

Latest figures from Boards Forum show that in September this year, female board directors were up from 12.5%* to 17.3% in FTSE 100 companies and up from 7.8%*to 11.3% for FTSE 250 companies.  Those with all male boards now equate to 8%, down from 21%*

“Progress is being made but not quickly enough apparently.  Her Invitation is against quotas, believing that forcing companies to hire women in senior positions will only aggravate the relationship between men and women at senior levels.  What companies desperately need is to be co-parented using blended male and female leadership styles, which means having a close knit team of men and women who respect each other, value each other’s strengths and experiences, believing in moving forwards as a united front.  How will those relationships meld together with quota’s forcing gender bias appointments?”

This is a call for all CEO’s.  Do you really know the women to watch in your organisation?

“It’s the pipeline of talented, vibrant young women that needs to be strengthened if companies are to achieve authentic board harmony.  Innovative, commercial minds, quick thinkers – all the traits that women portray, coupled with a sense of care and intuition about how to lead people and grow economies.  Many companies already have that talent in low-mid management levels without even realising it.  Her Invitation helps CEO’s identify and groom them for senior roles based on merit not gender.”

“This is a call for all CEO’s.  Do you really know the women to watch in your organisation?  Identify them. Know your pipeline and then do everything you can to encourage, support, inspire and retain them.  You’re the ones with the vision, the creativity, the blue sky thinking.  It’s your job to lead, to stand up to moans about positive discrimination – quotas are positive discrimination!  What are you really actively doing to redress the balance?”

Ms Allen highlighted that it wasn’t that long ago, when women aspired to be secretaries, giving up their jobs when they got married to stay at home and have children.  Back then it was perfectly acceptable to slap a woman on the behind as she passed your desk to make the tea.  “In another 30 years’ time” she continued, “ I hope that my daughters will see equality at board level as common place and that it’ll be history lessons explaining how and why companies altered outdated male-centric modes of operating.  It also seems sadly that they’ll have first hand experience of the effect of quota’s, let’s hope that on this occasion ‘force’ leads to a positive outcome”.

*’Women on boards’ Feb 2011 (Lord Davies figures relating to 2010)

Lynette Allen

About the Author

Lynette Allen, MD, Her Invitation Ltd

With Lynette’s unrivalled experience in coaching and developing executive women, (supported by her popularity as a speaker and broadcaster), she has founded a unique programme for Women of Potential called ‘Her Invitation’.  As an authority on ‘developing women for leadership’, Lynette has put together a unique 6 step plan to enable women to take charge of their own careers and move upwards in the workplace.

Her experience means she has coached women all over the world on topics surrounding female advancement. Her engaging and insightful approach provides a solution to the same issues which repeat themselves over and over again in business.  Her flagship workshop ‘Her Invitation’ addresses these issues head on and delivers improved productivity, loyalty and performance from women in business.

Find out more about Lynette here

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