Women are still woefully under-represented in boardrooms, the civil service, the judiciary and parliament. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has found that women still make up only ten per cent of directors of FTSE 100 companies and, in some cases, the number of women in leading positions has actually fallen.
If the gap is to be filled, the EOC argues that nearly 6,000 women need to be found for more than 33,000 top positions across the public and private sector highlighted in the survey.
Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC, says the findings ‘show just how slow the pace of change has been in powerful British institutions’. She adds: ‘Asking for flexible working still spells career death for too many women in today’s workplace, and as a consequence women with caring responsibilities all too often have to “trade down” to keep working.’
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents the interests of businesses in the UK, notes that while the EOC’s survey needs to be taken seriously, the overall picture for women in the workplace is not all doom and gloom.
Susan Anderson, director of human resources policy at the CBI, comments: ‘Women are still under-represented in senior positions and more progress must be made, but it is encouraging that an increasing number of women are becoming directors, particularly from the younger age groups.
‘While the EOC draws attention to the fact that only ten per cent of directors of FTSE 100 companies are female, women make up 23 per cent of directorships across all companies and 28 per cent of directors aged 18-29 are women. This bodes well for the future.’