UK Study says Businesses still Struggle with Gender Diversity

While it has become accepted that companies with high levels of gender diversity at all levels outperform those without, many are still struggling to address diversity effectively within their organisations according to UK consultancy Female Quotient.

The firm, which has been launched to help organisations identify and introduce effective programmes and practices to realise the businesses benefits of gender balance, claims that companies with more women board directors outperform those with the least by 53% based on return on equity, 66% based on return on capital invested and 42% based on return on sales.

It also cites a November 2012 report issued by McKinsey,
‘Women Matter: Making the Breakthrough’
, which reported that 90% of companies surveyed were taking steps to tackle gender diversity. However, many companies are struggling to implement effectively what they have formally put in place and are frustrated by the slow rate of progress. Some companies were shown to have targets for women in senior positions but no action plans to meet them, and while 69% of companies said they had mentoring programmes in place for women, only 16% said they were well implemented.

According to Female Quotient, while organisations understand the need to attract and retain female talent at all levels, the reality is that many continue to struggle and in the UK women still only account for 17.3% of boardroom roles at FTSE 100 companies. Although women hold 40% of first-line management positions, at mid-management female representation declines to just 15%.

“Businesses are coming around to the fact that if they don’t address gender balance within their organisations they will lose competitiveness,” said Amanda Street, co-founder of Female Quotient.

“Despite this, the difficulty in retaining women and developing the female talent pipeline persists. If a working woman has a child, which 80% will, her chances of being hired fall by 79% and she is half as likely to be promoted. This cannot continue. It’s no longer about what’s best for women, this is about what’s best for business. And it’s the right mix of both men and women at all levels that will drive business success.”

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