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The Lack of Gender Diversity at the Top

UK Businesses Need to Diversify

Over the last few years we’ve seen an impressive push made in order to bring gender equality to the world over. Naturally some places are further ahead than others, that being said there is still a surprising amount of inequality in places that you’d imagine to be more progressive than they are. Here in the UK constant action is being taken in hopes of eradicating it, particularly in the work place where pay gaps between male and female employees still haunt the system profusely. This is particularly prevalent amongst many of the large companies and recently a trade body of the financial sector named ‘The Investment Association’ have announced that all boards should be made up of at least 33% female workers by 2020.

A total of 69 major companies have been addressed with this notion, companies like Greene King, JD Sports and Dominos Pizza. Of these 69 companies 66 have only one female on their board whilst the remaining three, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, TR Property Investment Trust and a property investor named Daejan Holdings have none at all, having a complete male occupied board. This means that as many as one in five of the countries largest companies are failing to achieve gender equality within the upper ranks of their workplace.

As of 2016 the government commissioned The Investment Association to carry out what is known as the Hampton-Alexander review, this is intended to asses the corporate gender equality in these bigger businesses. The Investment Association has a total number of 250 members who together manage £7.7tn in assets. The head of the association, Chris Cumming, told the BBC that the amount of these companies falling short on gender equality was simply “unacceptable”. He went on to explain that they must do more than simply take on a single female member as something of a “tokenistic” gesture and consider that job done. In fact, he explains that there is evidence to suggest that boards with a greater gender balance actually outperform those with a less diverse board.

The lack of equality at the top is a major issue that spreads throughout entire companies. In order to create a change not only in job opportunities but also in that pay gap that still exists we need to have gender equality amongst those top-level piers. Women need to be involved in these decisions otherwise we will likely see little or no change. Chair of the business select committee Rachel Reeves MP believes this to be case and has put pressure on investors as well to ensure that more is done in order to correct this issue.

It would seem that great changes still need to be made in order to achieve the goal of gender equality in the workplace however these are positive steps in the right direction. The aim as that change will really be set in motion by the year 2020 so perhaps the new decade will bring with it the turning of a new leaf.