James Moore: Common sense to put women on boards, so why the delay?

Outlook Hooray! The Cranfield School of Management says that at last progress is being made in increasing the number of women in the boardroom. So much progress that we're in sight of a much-heralded target!

What's that, did someone at the back of the lecture theatre cough? Was that the word "spin" I heard? I do believe it was.

Cranfield's "progress" report hails the fact that in the last six months just 27 per cent of FTSE 100 and 30 per cent of FTSE 250 board appointments went to women.

So at some point, years hence, we may get near to the 25 per cent target set by Lord Davies, the former Standard Chartered boss, in his Government-commissioned report a couple of years ago. It was itself laughably unambitious when compared to the situation on the Continent.

Increasing the number of women on boards, and increasing boardroom diversity generally, isn't about box-ticking. It's not even simply about natural justice. It's common business sense.

Big companies are prone to groupthink at the best of times. Stocking the boardroom with monotone groups of middle-aged, middle-class blokes who went to similar schools and then did similar courses at similar universities only encourages this.

The net result is that the companies they oversee tend to make very similar mistakes, as can be seen through taking a cursory look at some of the cock-ups that FTSE 100 companies have made in recent years.

That's clearly not going to change any time soon.

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