And… I’m back! Again! Apologies for the further unscheduled break. The dreaded lurgy came back again and I spent a further week off work. But now I’m back! Oh, yes!!!
So, female representation on boards. At present there is a “voluntary framework” in Britain that encourages companies to increase the number of woman on their main board. After four years, women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards has almost doubled, from 12.5% to, wait for it, 23.5%. Despite being described by Lord Davies of Abersoch, author of this report as “nothing short of a revolution”, it’s not exactly earth-shattering.
And now Lord Davies has set a “challenging new target” for companies to have boards of which 33% are women by 2020. Not half women, note. Not even equal representation. One third. By 2020. That means that companies will have had nine years to get one third of the people on their boards to be female, one third as long again as the entire period of the Second World War. And they only have to try, not necessarily succeed, because this is a target. It’s not going to be a legal requirement.
I heard an interesting interview on the Today programme, my primary news source, about this. John Humphreys was interviewing Lord Davies (A man interviewing a man…… Sigh), and he asked him why the one third figure was being made a target, not a legal requirement. The answer was that the government thought it was “better” to make it a target. Since it has been shown that countries such as Norway and Iceland which introduced laws regarding gender representation on boards tend to have higher numbers of women on boards, it’s questionable what “better” actually means in this context. “Better for companies which don’t want to put women on their boards”, presumably.
The trouble with targets is that they tend to remain just that, targets, which of their nature are missed much of the time. And by making something a “target” rather than a legal requirement, you are allowing the worst members of the cohort to come up with stupid excuses like “There weren’t any suitable candidates” and “Women tend not to have the necessary skills”. (The only appropriate answer to this kind of guff is “Well, f*cking teach them, then!” I mean, women couldn’t build planes at the beginning of World War Two, but they could bloody well build them, and build them bloody well, by the end. Sheesh!)
More tomorrow, inshalla.