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UKRC response to the Davies Report recommendations

25 February 2011


The UKRC, the organisation leading the campaign for gender equality in science, engineering and technology (SET), welcomes the report by Lord Davies into ‘Women on Boards’.

Annette Williams, Director of the UKRC, commented: “The publication of the Davies report reflects a growing consensus that the lack of women at the top of UK business is counter-productive and needs to be addressed. Lord Davies’ recommendations now present a clear challenge and call for action to Chairs and Chief Executives to improve the diversity of their boards. The UKRC believes that setting and monitoring voluntary targets should accelerate progress, but will require firm government commitment to drive and sustain momentum.

“We are particularly pleased to see the recommendations on improved transparency and closer monitoring of companies’ progress on gender equality. Transparency and accountability are key tools that will drive and measure change.”

The Davies report highlights the pace of change is too slow and the UKRC is keen to point out that this is particularly true of science, engineering and technology companies, sectors that the government believes will drive the UK’s future economic success:

 *     Women account for only 10.7% of the directorships in SET FTSE 100 companies compared to 14.7% for the non-SET companies (1).
 *     Almost 30% of the SET companies in the FTSE 100 have no female directors on their boards at all, compared to 9% of the non-SET companies (1).

“Our research and experience supports the view of the Davies report that the issue is partly one of supply, but also demand. Organisations must recognise that the lack of women at senior levels can only be addressed if they have suitable talent retention strategies, to enable them to retain potential leaders further down their hierarchies. This is even more important for organisations in the SET sectors where the recruitment and retention of women is particularly low. However, a lack of transparency in recruitment, and access to networks, can act as barriers to capable women trying to find a route into their first board position.

“Leaders can emerge at any stage, and leadership can take a variety of forms, and so the UKRC champions not only the women who have achieved very senior roles as part of their career progression, but also those women who stand out as potential leaders; influencing issues and people, and inspiring others to do the same.

“Lord Davies points out that increasing women on boards, is as much about improving business performance as it is about equal opportunities. We would encourage the government to support the further development of the evidence base for board diversity through continued research and measurement.”

The UKRC has just launched a Good Practice Guide on encouraging Women into Leadership which sets out the reasons why employers in SET will benefit from encouraging women into managerial and senior roles in their organisations. The new Guide outlines the obstacles that can prevent women from progressing, and illustrates effective ways to overcome them.

The UKRC has significant expertise in supporting both public and private sector SET organisations in developing practical solutions to increase gender diversity in their top teams and at board level.

UKRC can assist the SET companies responding to the challenge of Lord Davies’ review to improve boardroom culture and practice, address unconscious bias and increase transparency in their recruitment and appointment processes, and broaden access and nurture their talent pool. UKRC has networks to reach board-ready women and a tested range of tools and resources specific to the gender and diversity issues in those sectors and companies where most targeted and concerted action is needed.

For further information, please contact:

UK Resource Centre for Women (UKRC)
Listerhills Park of Science and Commerce
40-42 Campus Road

Tel: 01274 436485
Email: info@ukrc4setwomen.org 
Web: www.ukrc4setwomen.org
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