By Anjuli Davies LONDON - A campaign to get more women on to company boards inBritain could struggle to make progress because headhunters andhiring committees are too traditional when recruiting for seniorroles, a report said on Monday. Last year some of the biggest headhunters signed up to a voluntarycode of conduct, pledging to improve the gender balance inBritain's boardrooms following a government-sponsored reportseeking to double the proportion of women on boards to 25 per centby 2015. One year on, headhunters are still holding back the process byfavouring candidates who are too similar to existing board members,the report produced by Cranfield School of Management for theEquality and Human Rights Commission found. "The often subjective way of making appointments ends upreplicating existing boards rather than bringing in talentedwomen," said Baroness Prosser, deputy chair of the Equality andHuman Rights Commission. The proportion of women on boards of FTSE 100 companies has risento 16.0 per cent from 12.5 per cent over the past year, and from9.4 per cent in 2004. |
Nine boards among Britain's blue chipcompanies are still all-male. In the FTSE 250 firms the figure is 10.1 per cent and there are 107all-male boards. European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding in Marchproposed imposing quotas in the EU if there was not more progress,something which would be unpopular with many company executives. The European Commission is seeking responses in a consultation onher proposals that closes on Monday. STAGE BY STAGE The Cranfield report found that initiatives to increase the numberof female appointments often has less impact as the recruitmentprocess progressed.
More women might be initially included in thesearch, but the ultimate appointments often remained biased towardstraditional candidates. "In the later stages of the process, which entails short-listingand interviewing, there needs to be more effort from headhuntersand chairmen to ensure that selection practices remain inclusive,"said Elena Doldor, senior research fellow at Cranfield. "It is at these later stages of the process that the focus appearsto inadvertently shift from candidates' actual competencies to theslippery notion of 'fit'." In order to tackle the problem, executive search firms and chairmenmust work together to review the process and the qualities thatthey might be looking for as well as spend more time nurturing apipeline of new talent.
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