Jun 6 2012   11:55AM GMT

How can we break down the masculine boardroom culture?

kbateman Profile: kbateman

"Board of directors"
"Equality and Human Rights Commission"
"Executive search"
"FTSE 350 Index"
"FTSE 350"
"Karen Gill"
"Margaret Prosser Baroness Prosser"

A guest blog from Maggie Berry, managing director of WomeninTechnology.co.uk.


Women are still finding it hard to get onto the boards of FTSE 350 companies because the selection process continues to favour candidates who fit in with the masculine boardroom culture.


Those are the findings of a newly published report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which discovered that although executive search firms are making progress towards placing more females in top jobs, they still come across barriers in the final stages of the recruitment process.


Since last year’s Davies review, women are more likely to reach the long-list for boardroom positions but find themselves at a disadvantage when the short-list is drawn up because it is felt they will not “fit in” with the values of existing board members, who are of course predominantly male.


The deputy chair of the EHRC, Baroness Prosser, explained that studies have shown that diverse boards produce better performance and many companies now recognise this. However, the selection process remains subjective and new board members tend to replicate the existing ones.


Karen Gill, the co-founder of the Everywoman network said, “chairman must make a conscious decision to take the blinkers off and consider applicants on a proven track record.” British boards need a new perspective and women can bring this.


The report also recommended that executive search firms need to devote more time to building up relationships with women who have the potential to become directors later on in life and carry out regular reviews to ensure the voluntary code of conduct on gender diversity is effective.


How can we convince male board members that increasing diversity in the boardroom will not only bring real benefits to the performance of their individual company, but it will also ultimately help the UK’s economic recovery?

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