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Who runs the world? Boys, boys, boys

Posted by: Laurence Simons 21/06/12

A new report has finally refuted all those pesky rumours about women having a fair say in the workplace, as an investigation into the FTSE 350-listed non-executive director roles has found that - and if you have a heart complaint, sit down for this one - male-dominated boards are still the norm. And what's more, their hiring processes are still holding back career progression for women in senior roles.

We have the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders to thank for the report, which found that despite a gender balance code of conduct signed by a number of UK companies, women are still struggling to get a place at the walnut-embossed table. And while there has indeed been an increase, not enough is being done to ensure gender equality - or anything even approaching it - in higher level boardrooms.

"It is at these later stages of the process that the focus appears to inadvertently shift from candidates' actual competencies to the slippery notion of 'fit'," said Dr Elena Dolder, who led the research and didn't mean 'fit' in that way. "However, the often subjective way appointments are made ends up replicating existing boards rather than bringing in the talented women who could bring real benefit to individual company performance and ultimately help Britain's economic recovery," she continued.

The percentage of women on the boards of major companies in the UK hit a record high of 16 per cent last year, but with new government mandates set to introduce a minimum 25 per cent rate of female directors on FTSE 100 boards by 2015, getting the promotion process right - rather than making rash appointments nearer to the time – will be key.

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