UK manufacturers have a higher than average proportion of women on their boards but more needs to be done, an industry body claimed today.
A new survey by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, has found that women account for 19% of board positions in the 29 manufacturing firms within the FTSE 100. This is slightly higher than the 17% average of the full FTSE 100.
The survey was carried out by EEF in partnership with Lloyds TSB Commercial Banking and Cranfield School of Management for the first FTSE 100 Women in Manufacturing index.
EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler said that, with 81% of directorships held by men, women are still under-represented in manufacturing at a time when the industry needs to be making the most of all talents.
Report adviser Dr Ruth Sealy, deputy director of the International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield School of Management, highlighted the fact that, two years on from Lord Davies’ report on the lack of women on boards, there have been encouraging increases but the number of women on boards remains low.
“Boards need to champion the issue and take proactive steps to identify and develop talented individuals within their organisations for executive directorships,” she added.
Some commentators have suggested that the best way to address the disparity is by introducing quotas for the number of women on boards. However, as far as the manufacturing industry is concerned, EEF’s analysis suggests that this is not the best approach because it would not address the underlying issue of the need to increase the pipeline of women with engineering and other skills choosing to work in manufacturing.
EEF and its partners have called for a national campaign to encourage more young women to study science-related topics to professional level, as well as to promote apprenticeships and other vocational routes into work, thereby increasing the pipeline of female engineers at all levels.
Businesswoman and Dragon’s Den panellist Hilary Devey told the Observer Magazine yesterday that a key reason why few women want to work at the highest level is because “women generally put their partner and children first.”
The UK government has urged the country’s top companies to include more women on their boards, but is not in favour of European Union proposals to introduce mandatory quotas.