The old boys' network is still keeping women out of the boardroom

Jess Shanahan
- Leadership - Mar 23, 2016

A study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) showed that headline progress in achieving a target of 25% of company boards made up of women was "masking" the reality.

The old boys’ network is making it difficult for women to take senior positions on the boards of businesses. Three out of five firms in the FTSE 350 were failing to meet the target and fewer than half increased female board representation in recent years.

A third of companies relied on the personal networks of current board members to find new candidates, so the old boys' network was still being widely used, said the report.

The diversity of candidates was also being limited by virtually no open advertising of board positions, said the Commission.

Laura Carstensen, Equality and Human Rights Commissioner, said: "Despite welcome progress and vital work by Lord Davies, our top boards still remain blatantly male and white, with inexcusable and unacceptable discrepancies between companies.

"The good work of a forward thinking minority masks that many top businesses are still only paying lip service to improving the representation of women on boards.

"The best companies are showing that having talented women on their boards is boosting both performance and fairness.

"Unfortunately, the recruitment practices of too many businesses still remain trapped in permafrost and that's holding back women and ultimately the companies themselves.

"The recruitment process to the boards of Britain's top companies remains shadowy and opaque and is acting as a barrier to unleashing female talent."

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