James Ashton: Here’s the way to hand real power to women

  • @mrjamesashton

Sir Roger Carr was back beating the drum for greater diversity at the top of British companies at an Ernst & Young reception on Tuesday night.

The CBI president and Centrica chairman flagged up research from McKinsey that showed attrition rates for men and women as they climb the greasy pole are similar at all levels – only the promotion rates are very different.

In fact, men are 10 times more likely to make partner in a law firm and three times as likely in the accountancy world – suggesting that ambitious female lawyers should divert their efforts into bean-counting if they want to get on.

The worry is that the pace of recruitment of women into the boardroom is slowing. It is not something I’m overly concerned by. Restocking boards needs a good supply, and it’s only natural that the best sort of pipelines take a long time to stock.

Better if the debate focused less on expanding the army of female non-executive directors and more on putting women – and other minorities in the business world – into the full-time management roles where the real power is wielded.