UK politicians are saying companies need to monitor women's progressOn the morning that Kathryn Bigelow became the 1st woman to win an Oscar as best Director UK politicians have been saying that private-sector companies should have to tell us all about the progress they're making in promoting women to senior executive and non-executive positions.
As with the Oscars it is clear that at the very top of the FTSE 100 women remain very rare with only 10% of their directors being women.
What is not so well researched is what is happening in small to medium business .I think there is a great deal of evidence that women who see their path blocked in major businesses either in executive or non executive roles are focusing their talents and energies into running their own businesses or in being a major contributor in medium businesses.
As one woman director recently said to me in a smaller business there is nowhere to hide, when you succeed it is obvious and no man can pretend that it was his work that mattered.
SMEs in the UK and small budget films such as Kathrynís have one thing in common; they both contribute significant energy and dynamism to their respective industries. Kathryn and her film have been recognised for their outstanding work in their field, now it is time to recognise and applaud many other women in the UK business sectors for their outstanding contributions. This recognition should pave the way towards giving even more of the most talented and able business women the opportunity to hold director level positions in larger companies.
In the 21st Century whether your senior team or board of directors contains women, is becoming ever more crucial, not just because of social policy, but because all the evidence is that diverse businesses (and what modern business is not?), need Directors who themselves have diverse backgrounds.
This is because human beings bring to any problem or decision a series of tools and experiences that they have available to them such as:
- How I have seen other people handle this issue?
- How did I do this last time?
- What are our advisors are telling us would be a good thing to
- I donít know about this subject in detail but my colleague is very
knowledgeable about it so I will vote with her.
Depending on who they are and what they have done in their careers, and their own natural styles, they will create a synthesis of all of the above and come to a decision.
If everyone on the board is a white middle class man who is a university graduate, who did a professional job at a series of blue chip companies it is likely that the tools and experiences they will bring to the board will be very similar and may limit the options that are considered.
Wanda Goldwag is Non Executive Chair of True North Human Capital Ltd. which helps companies find both the right men and women for senior roles.
www.freshbusinessthinking.com March 2010