This is an extremely hot topic currently, and quite rightly so. It is only when you start looking into this subject and begin to absorb the figures and statistics available, that you can truly see just how much still needs to be done. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 202 years to close the global pay gap between men and women.
There are various reports and projects dedicated to improving equality and diversity in Business, especially at executive board level. The Hampton-Alexander Review, backed by the UK Government, has set the target for all FTSE350 companies to have at least a third of their board members and leadership to be filled by women by the end of 2020.
Thankfully it seems matters have improved since the following excuses were used by FTSE Board Chairs in 2011 as detailed in the Hampton-Alexander Review 2018:
- “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the Board environment”,
- “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” and
- “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn”….
These examples are just three of a compilation of the Top 10 excuses previously used to try and explain the lack of equality in companies.
Women’s representation on boards of FTSE 100 companies has reached over 30% for the first time in history, but the appointment rate is heavily skewed with 65% of all newly available roles going to men. While FTSE 250 companies have moved slightly forward with women’s representation at 24.9% and the FTSE 350 companies figure stands slightly up at 26.7%. The FTSE100 is in a good position to meet the target of 33% by the end of 2020, however the FTSE 250 will need to ensure that 50% of all available future appointments go to women to meet the target.
Locally, Micky Swindale spoke on this topic at the KPMG eGaming Summit last September and she noted that it is only at the target of 33%, that women start to have any voice and actually it can be more like 60% before they can exert equal influence in the room.
Whilst we look to companies to do the right thing perhaps we should also take a moment to understand that society tends to pigeon hole children from a very young age. In 2017, the BBC did an experiment as part of the documentary ‘No More Boys And Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’, in which they swapped the clothes of a baby girl and boy. Unsuspecting volunteers then encouraged each child to play with certain toys – and yes you guessed it – the little girl who was dressed in ‘boys’ clothes was given the robot, the sit on car and a puzzle game to play with by the volunteers and the little boy wearing a dress was given the doll and soft cuddly toys to play with, rather than the other toys which teach spatial awareness or physical confidence. It really is fascinating to watch, and food for thought as to how we can all do our bit to help the next generation not have these obstacles to overcome in terms of equality, not just in business but any career path they wish to take.
As a business, we at Boston Multi Family Office continue to make great strides, with women on average making up 64% of our Board of Directors across the Group companies and currently 69% of our total staff in the Isle of Man.
It’s important to us to encourage the development of a culture where diversity can thrive and that we provide the appropriate mentoring and opportunities to help our people meet their potential, alongside flexible working arrangements that enable them to manage their family commitments.
Additionally, in the wealth management industry, there is still some way to go to cater for the needs of women’s wealth. Businesses ignore this area at their peril as female wealth is a growing market – and it is likely those businesses who have strong female representation themselves will naturally have a greater advantage in understanding women’s goals and aspirations.