Top 10 worst excuses for not appointing women executives

  • Published
men and women in officeImage source, Getty Images

Women don't fit in, don't want the hassle, and struggle with "complex issues".

Those are just some of the reasons given for not appointing women to FTSE company boards, according to a report on gender balance.

The government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review called it shocking, while a minister branded the excuses "pitiful".

The government wants women to make up at least a third of boards for the UK's 350 biggest companies by 2020.

While the review's interim report found that things are definitely improving, some firms seem to be dragging their feet and paying only lip service to diversity.

The top 10 excuses for not appointing women were:

  • "I don't think women fit comfortably into the board environment"
  • "There aren't that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board - the issues covered are extremely complex"
  • "Most women don't want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board"
  • "Shareholders just aren't interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?"
  • "My other board colleagues wouldn't want to appoint a woman on our board"
  • "All the 'good' women have already been snapped up"
  • "We have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else's turn"
  • "There aren't any vacancies at the moment - if there were I would think about appointing a woman"
  • "We need to build the pipeline from the bottom - there just aren't enough senior women in this sector"
  • "I can't just appoint a woman because I want to"

The explanations come from a range of FTSE 350 chairs and chief executives that were heard by the team conducting the review.

Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, said: "As you read this list of excuses you might think it's 1918, not 2018.

"It reads like a script from a comedy parody but it's true. Surely we can now tackle this once and for all."

'Blocking progress'

The number of all-male FTSE 350 company boards fell from 152 in 2011 to 10 in 2017.

However, Sir Philip Hampton, the senior City figure who is leading the review, said companies were still a long way off from meeting the 2020 target.

"We used to hear these excuses regularly a few years ago, thankfully much less so now.

"However, leaders expressing warm words of support but actually doing very little to appoint women into top jobs - or quietly blocking progress - are really not much better."

Media caption,

Fiona Hathorn worked for 16 years in the City

And Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said such "appalling" excuses proved companies have more work to do.

"It's shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from the top jobs.

"Our most successful companies are those that champion diversity."

The review is due to publish its latest figures on the number of women on FTSE 350 boards on 27 June.