March 8, 2023 International Women’s Day and Women on Boards: A Cause for Celebration
The sea-change attitude to women leaders on the top table of UK businesses demonstrates a breakthrough in board diversity and equality.
Against the backdrop of a complex external landscape with the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation, recovery from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, an inclusive and diverse board and workforce is more important now than ever to drive business performance.
It is pleasing to note that there has been strong momentum in women achieving Board and leadership roles in the year. The commitment to positive change and reaping the rewards of a diverse workforce has been recognised in the UK with nearly 40% of positions on FTSE 100 Boards being held by women compared to a rate of 12.5% 10 years prior. This target was achieved three years ahead of the target date making it a significant achievement and a testament to businesses pulling together to make this happen. What’s more, is that this was achieved by entirely voluntary means in just one decade.
The top 50 private companies also chose to report on gender diversity, not because there was a requirement to do so but because they recognised the value in doing this.
The work to keep this momentum going cannot be underestimated. At Elemental, we have board diversity and inclusion at the forefront of the way we support clients with governance best practices:
- Board support: we ensure that boards take the lead on strategic planning and reflect on key issues such as board composition and diversity at regular intervals. Annual governance planners are essential to make this happen.
- Board evaluations: Elemental believes that board quality is dependent on board diversity in its fullest sense. To achieve this, a combination of skills, diversity and experience is required so that boards are less prone to group think. We believe that diverse groups make better decisions. Board evaluations play a significant role in helping to improve diversity and composition to ensure that boards benefit from different views and an all-encompassing approach.
- Induction and training of directors: boards of directors play a critical role in driving diversity, equality and inclusion in organisations. We believe that the tone is set from the top. Elemental is pleased to assist with setting a clear organisational approach to gender equality and diversity in the boardroom through induction and training of directors and trustees.
- Corporate Governance reviews: demonstrating how a company’s culture is aligned with its purpose, values and strategy is critical. Elemental facilitates corporate governance audits/reviews, allowing businesses to assess compliance and governance arrangements in line with recognised corporate governance codes of conduct and best practice.
We recognise that a long-term approach is essential to increase diverse representation, not just at board level but at all levels within an organisation. This allows businesses to attract and retain diverse talent in the workplace whilst also promoting an inclusive environment.
Whilst many of the barriers to the progression of women in the workplace have been removed, there are others that remain including family-friendly working practices and the opportunity for equal parenting between parents. This requires business leaders to take a wide-lens perspective of the landscape outside of the workplace to establish what are the things that form the barriers to change within it. In turn, businesses will need to equip themselves with the tools and the confidence to implement practical, cultural interventions in the workplace which remove the barriers to progression for women.
One such intervention we make at Elemental is to ensure that our whole team has access to flexible working arrangements and remote working so that every employee can balance their priorities both in and outside the workplace confidently. Be it shared parental and home responsibilities, caring for a family member, or academic development etc, our team know that as employers, we value and respect the priorities that we all have at home. We are happy to be role models to what inclusive leadership and working practices look like and we continue to reflect on and evolve our working practices to keep improving on this. Elemental believes that diversity and inclusion need to be a continued focus in order to celebrate the same progression for women on boards and leadership roles beyond 2023.
We look forward to playing our part in continuing the promotion of gender equality and diverse board representation. The rise of women on boards is a cause for celebration – what better time to recognise this than on International Women’s Day.