One year on, Lord Davies and his review panel have published a progress report. For the Government and opponents of quotas it has made cheerful reading. Progress has been made:
Theresa May said this was cause for celebration and a sign that quotas are unnecessary and voluntary targets were doing their job. However, over the last year just 15% of executive posts within the FTSE 100 were awarded to women, 7% of those within the FTSE 250. In the FTSE 250 as a whole women only account for 9.6% of directorships.
The lack of women on the boards of our public companies is a sign of a much more significant gap – a lack of age, race, background, educational diversity which means we have much further to go than even these figures suggest. In the year since the Davis Review was published there has been a baby-step in the right direction, but it is too slow and has been too easy. Appointing some Non-Executive directors will not achieve the step-change needed.
No one seems to like quotas, but support for them is increasing as the realisation dawns that they may be the only way to achieve significant change in this lifetime. The bigger question of how to get more diverse talent to the top of organisations, break open the private members club which still dominates the top of UK companies and create workplaces where people can achieve their potential is only starting to be asked.
Inclusive Employers and Cass Business School are holding a breakfast debate on increasing diversity at the top of UK organisations on 24th April 2012. For more information click here.