There's been a huge, incredibly important movement to have more conversations about women in the workplace and companies having been recently forced to publish data about their gender pay imbalances is inevitably a step in the right direction. But the fact is, we've still got a long way to go before we start seeing real, widespread change.
It's well known that some of the huge disparities between the employment of men and women are found at senior level in big businesses, and the excuses that have been given to rationalise why this is still the case are pretty outrageous.
A report by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills revealed that, according to executives at some of the UK's FTSE 350 firms, boardrooms are dominated by men because women just aren't a good fit. [Insert scoffs, eye rolls and exasperated sighs of despair here].
The other reasons given for the lack of women at the top level of some of these companies follow a similar vein and are equally as frustrating. If there's anything that might squash your faith in the progress, I'm sad to say it's probably this. Here are 10 of the BS excuses that execs gave for astonishingly low hire rate of senior women.
1 'I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment'
2 'There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex'
3 'Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board'
4 'Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?'
5 'My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board'
6 'All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up'
7 'We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn'
8 "There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman'
9 'We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector'
10 'I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to'
The excuses have been described as 'pitiful and patronising' by business minister Andrew Griffiths, the Guardian reports, but what's going to happen to change it? Now that the attitudes we feared to be the legitimate rationale of some of the most powerful business leaders in the country have proven true, where do we turn to rectify it?
Optimistically, the most recent statistics show that the number of women on boards has 'more than doubled in the FTSE 350 since 2011' and the number of boards only made up of men has dropped dramatically.
But these sorts of complacent and demeaning attitudes about there not being enough 'good' women, or that women don't want to progress to the next level, prove that imposing targets to produce stats only gets us so far, because as long as people at the top believe that 'women [don't] fit comfortably into the board environment', we'll struggle to see the gender balance improve effectively or sustainably.
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