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Maria Miller calls on business leaders to redouble their commitment to women in the workplace

Women and Equalities Minister sets out ‘a clear business argument’ for gender diversity.

Maria Miller recently outlined why promoting women at all levels of the workforce is so vital to the UK’s economic future. Attending an event hosted by Cranfield University School of Management recently, for the launch of their annual Female FTSE report, she argued that there is a clear business argument for ensuring gender diversity. She added that it was only through a cultural shift, rather than imposed European quotas and “tokenism” that a real difference will be made.

On track to meet 25% target

Cranfield’s latest figures show that we are still on track to meet Lord Davies’ recommended target of 25% female representation on the executive boards of FTSE 100 companies by 2015. Women now account for 17.3% of directors of FTSE 100 companies, compared to 12.5% two years ago. Only 6 all-male Boards remain (down from 21 two years ago). Women now make up 13.3% of FTSE 250 boards, up from 9.4% last year.

Speaking at the event, Mrs Miller said:

“We have made good progress, but there is still much more work to do - and there is no room for complacency. The priority now is to maintain that momentum, not only within listed companies but across the economy as a whole… We simply cannot afford to waste the skills and talents of half of our population.”

Women on Boards progress report

Also published recently was Lord Davies’s second annual progress report into Women on Boards. The report shows that progress has been made with greater female representation in the boardroom since his review was launched in 2011. And most importantly, the UK’s top companies are recognising the benefits that having a diverse board can bring to their business.

In his report, Lord Davies makes a special request for Chairs to review their targets for 2015, and encourages those companies that have not yet set targets to do so. He also urges FTSE 350 Chief Executives to set out, by the end of September 2013, the percentage of women they aim to have on their Executive Committees and in Senior Management levels within their organisations in 2015.

Think, Act, Report: gender equality at work

After speaking at Cranfield, Maria Miller visited BAE systems Research and Development site in Essex. BAE are one of over 80 companies which are signed up to our Think, Act, Report gender equality initiative, which now covers over 1.3 million employees. On the visit she met BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre’s General Manager Mike Worboys and HR Manager Catherine Robinson who explained how the company promoted gender equality and actively engaged with schools and universities to encourage more women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers. She also met three female engineers who discussed their experiences and future aspirations.

Mrs Miller added:

“BAE Systems are key members of Government’s Think, Act, Report initiative, which encourages businesses to promote gender equality and transparency. It is absolutely vital that businesses make best use of women’s skills and talents, and a key part of that is encouraging women to be ambitious about their career options. I was really pleased to see first-hand the work that BAE Systems is doing in encouraging women to develop careers in engineering and technology.”

Further information

  • Cranfield University Female FTSE report
  • Women on Boards: second annual progress report
  • Think, Act, Report: gender equality at work

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