“We have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else’s turn”, “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?” and “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board”.
These are just some of the worse excuses for the woeful number of women on executive boards across the country, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Tangible progress has seen the number of women on boards more than double since 2011, but around a third of the FTSE 350 companies still have very few women on their board, or in senior leadership roles.
Sophie Becker, the woman behind brand new campaign Women on Board, is sick of the excuses.
The Hampton-Alexander review for boards set the low-sounding target of at least 30 per cent women by 2020.
It's not looking promising, point outs out Sophie of Women on Board: The Investors Association reported in April that 14 companies on the FTSE 100 held all-male executive committees and, earlier this year, the Hampton-Alexander Review wrote to 35 of the UK’s largest companies calling for them to address the devastatingly low representation of women in executive and top management roles.
Intent on seeing change, Sophie and her team are taking a very literal approach to shedding light on the shocking lack of gender diversity in leadership roles at the world’s most powerful corporations. By putting women on boards, of course. Well, cardboard, anyway. Sophie told indy100:
Time and time again, research has shown that companies with the highest ratio of women in leadership positions report increased innovation, inclusivity and insight – and subsequently higher profitability.
It was a moment of personal disappointment that sparked the campaign for Sophie.
Years on from studying the apparently forward-thinking cardboard manufacturer Smurfit Kappa, Sophie learnt they were one of the 14 to be singled out in this year’s gender diversity report as having an all-male Executive committee. Where had their pioneering diversity that Sophie had been so drawn to gone?
The owner Walter Paepke created this alternative but wildly successful corporate culture following his wife’s advice – involving her in every decision and demonstrating that diverse leadership enables true innovation and progress.
When she learned what the company had become, she was bitterly let down.
I was distraught to find that the CCA’s legacy was lagging so dismally behind in gender diversity targets.
To draw attention to the issue, she begun using their own cardboard against them: calling on the "incredible network of feminist artists on Instagram" and anyone else who wants to join in the fun to submit their own women on boards.
I thought the name ‘Women On Board’ combined with the cardboard theme was the perfect pun – considering that the company is a cardboard manufacturer and we want to get more women on their boards.
Since then, I’ve wanted to do more – so it’s grown to encompass real-life stunts to aid the impact.
Sophie turning her attention to the company she had so much faith in not as an attack, "but a call to ‘get it together’ in the area of diversity".
After all, fair representation of women on boards is the obvious choice, points out Sophie.
It’s not about doing ‘what’s right’ or tokenism; it’s about investing in companies with the most profitable future. Time and time again, research has shown that companies with the highest ratio of women in leadership positions report increased innovation, inclusivity and insight – and subsequently higher profitability.