I was delighted to read the latest reports of a 'culture change' taking place in the boardrooms of the top UK companies. According to the BBC News, there are a growing number of women in decision-making roles, according to new figures. Britain's former Trade Minister Lord Davies says women now account for just over 20 per cent of board members in the FTSE 100 firms, up from 12.5 per cent in 2011.
Chief executive of the Davies Review, Denise Wilson, captured the sentiment well by stating 'boards are starting to understand the valuable input women bring to business'. It is also interesting to see that there is a target of 25 per cent female representation to achieve by 2015 too! As a successful businesswoman myself and role model to my own daughter, I think news like this is great, but as always, there is so much more that could be done!
A few years ago, I wrote an article about the lack of female thought leaders in society and business and I was looking it over as I wrote this blog. My first article back in 2010 was inspired by news of reforms that were designed to shake up the boardroom and allow women to gain a more even ground in top leadership positions.
At the time, I said:
"Men will begin to face fiercer competition, as women begin to fight their way to the top. Women will still have their work cut out though, as they've got a lot of ground to cover to get up to the same representation as men and they'll have to work twice as hard to prove they are up to the jobs. But it certainly won't be easy for those men currently holding the top positions."
Despite the positive indications that the power balance is shifting in the boardroo,, I feel that there still a huge shortfall of visible female leaders in business, at conferences, in the bookstores. Women on boards is talked about all the time, there are so many other places for women to take centre stage than just around the boardroom table.
As the multi-award-winning owner of a million-dollar business, with 25 years of business and marketing experience, many industry accolades and academic qualifications, I anticipated being invited to join at least one company board by now, but it is always my male colleagues who seem to get the opportunities. I don't just want to be a token woman; I have a lot of real value to offer, but so far it is still a big challenge to break in.
Society as a whole needs to work harder to help women to be seen and heard, and forward-thinking organisations must take bolder steps to show they are not only giving women opportunities but proactively promoting them and their work.
Many people have been held back or even hurt by the recent recession. A major change is needed, in our economy and in society as a whole. But, until women feel accepted, empowered, recognised and rewarded accordingly, there is still more work to be done.
We can celebrate successes, but we must also strive to improve opportunities for women who want to be more, give more and achieve more.