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Government Study Reveals ‘Pitiful’ Excuses for Gender Pay Gap in Top Positions

A Government-backed study has uncovered the excuses behind gender imbalance in the workplace

Leading firms have been blamed for using patronising and pitiful excuses in an effort to explain why not enough senior positions are filled by women.

In a review of the gender pay gap within the FTSE 350, it was stated that businesswomen do not want the difficulty of top jobs or do not suit board-level positions.

The list of excuses were released by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in May ahead of the halfway mark of the Hampton-Alexander Review in June.

Andrew Griffiths, the Business Minister, believes it is shocking that firms think these patronising and pitiful excuses are acceptable explanations for keeping women from securing top jobs. He adds that the most successful businesses are those that are advocates for diversity.

Other excuses given in the review include:

  • Women will not fit well into the board room environment
  • Many women do not have the depth of experience or right credentials to sit on their board, as the issues discussed are extremely complex
  • Many women do not want the pressure or hassle of sitting on the board of their company
  • Shareholders are not interested in the balance of the boardroom, so why do we need to be?
  • My boardroom colleagues would not want a woman appointed on our board
  • All the talented women have been snapped up by other boards
  • We already have one woman on our board, so we have done our job. It is now another company’s turn
  • There are no vacancies at the moment, if there was one I would consider appointing a woman
  • The pipeline has to be built from the bottom and there are not enough women in senior roles in this sector
  • I cannot appoint a woman to the board just because I wish to

Business in the Community’s chief executive, Amanda Mackenzie, says the excuses are almost comical, and would fit into 1918 society, not 2018. She believes now is the time to tackle the gender pay gap for good.

Corporate giants such as BP and Sports Direct are among 35 of the country’s biggest organisations taken to task for their failure to meet targets to boost the number of businesswomen in boardrooms.

The Hampton-Alexander Review and IA (Investment Association) wrote to these 35 companies in the FTSE 350 with low or no female representation in the boardroom, and called for urgent action. The Review has recommended that one-third of all senior positions in the FTSE should be filled by businesswomen by 2020.

Sir Philip Hampton, the Review chairman, added that approximately 30% of FTSE 350 businesses have very few women placed in senior leadership positions or on their boards.

However, BEIS discovered in their review that the number of men-only FTSE 350 boards fell to 10 in 2017, from 152 in 2011.

Thankfully, the excuses are becoming less frequent as leaders express support in welcoming women into the boardroom. However, many companies are not putting these words into action, with many quietly blocking progress or doing little to appoint businesswomen into top jobs.

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