LONDON, June 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Despite 81% of women feeling that bias in the appointment process has a major impact on female representation, almost two-thirds (64%) of women do not support legal quotas. This is according to research conducted by Inspire, the female executive board network that is supported by Harvey Nash, a global professional recruitment consultancy and IT outsourcing service provider.
Instead, women respondents cited education and awareness as the single biggest opportunity for improving boardroom balance (44%), followed by published targets and regular reporting (40%). It appears from the survey, conducted of 365 male and female board level and senior executives that the majority of women in business want to be taken seriously for their expertise and not simply for being on the board.
Whilst still a minority of women (36%) believed quotas should be put in place, this is a growing and vocal segment of leading women in business and politics. For example, the UK Labour party is considering new rules making it mandatory that at least one of the two most senior leadership positions are held by a woman. In an interview given in London recently, one of its most influential female politicians said women were still a long way from being equal in the party.
But regardless of whether factors such as legislation and education are the solution, 84% of women believe they personally need to do more to achieve a higher representation on the board.
Women on the board - men think it's all marketing?
A significant minority (41%) of senior male executives and board members believe the push to achieve a higher female board representation is more about corporate marketing than it is about board room effectiveness.
Whilst the vast majority of executives support the principal of a greater balance of representation at board level, there are significant differences between males and females about why it is required and the causes of the current imbalance:
- Almost half (49%) of male board directors believe that having women on the board will make no difference to the board effectiveness. Women are much more bullish: 89% believe their increased presence will improve effectiveness.
- The majority of men (51%) think there is 'no problem' with the current make up of their board, compared to 33% of women.
- Almost two-thirds of men (63%) believe low female board representation is ultimately a 'supply' issue, attributable to the lack of suitably qualified women. Women believe the opposite, with 81% citing 'demand' as the ultimate factor, caused by a bias in the appointment process.
Carol Rosati, director of Harvey Nash and joint founder of Inspire - Harvey Nash's board level network for women - comments: "The results show a major difference in how men and women view females on the board: women think there's a problem, men don't. What is most striking about the survey is how women are looking to themselves to make a difference, rather than using the prop of legislation or targets. It's a positive message, but there's still a long way to go. For instance, women tend to apply for jobs only when they meet the vast majority of the requirements, whilst their male counterparts are often happy to throw their hat in the ring when possessing less than half of the skill set required. Without a step change in women's attitude the case for quotas will no doubt remain."
Notes to editors
About this survey: The survey was conducted online during May / June 2011 and was sent to the subscriber base of Harvey Nash's executive magazine OAM. 365 people responded, of which 33% were main board members, 43% senior executives reporting to the board and the remainder (24%) executives and senior managers. OAM's subscriber base is primarily UK based.
For more information please visit harveynash.com.
About Inspire: Established in 2008 and supported by Harvey Nash, Inspire provides a secure environment in which senior business women from the private and public sectors can share and exchange ideas and experiences with their peers. Each year, Inspire hosts events for more than 1000 women members made up exclusively of female board operators, chairs, COOs, group heads of HR and heads of diversity.
Inspire are proud category sponsors of the First Women Awards, taking place on June 30th 2011.
Find out more http://www.harveynash.com/inspire
About Harvey Nash: Harvey Nash, a global professional recruitment consultancy and IT outsourcing service provider, is committed to delivering the very best talent and IT solutions to a broad base of international clients. The Group is a trusted advisor to some of the world's leading business, governments and institutions. Operating from 39 offices covering the USA, Europe and Asia, its talented professionals pursue the highest levels of integrity and quality in providing a unique portfolio of services: executive search, interim management, IT and finance recruitment and IT outsourcing.
Find out more http://www.harveynash.com
Group Marketing Director
SOURCE Harvey Nash