Women '200 years behind' in drive for boardroom equality

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Women have failed to make an impression among the elite group of rich and powerful people who control Britain's boardrooms and public bodies, according to a report published today by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

Unless there is a dramatic change in recruitment and promotion, it will take 200 years to achieve an equal number of women in Parliament, 60 years to win parity in City boardrooms and 40 years to reach equality among the judiciary.

Women make up just 10 per cent of the directors of FTSE 100 companies and barely 20 per cent of MPs, according to Sex and Power: Who Runs Britain? 2007, which looks at women in the public and private sectors. The report warns that change at the top is too slow, and in some cases has gone into reverse.

If the "glass ceiling" is to be shattered, the EOC says nearly 6,000 women must find jobs among the 33,000 top posts in the public and private sector surveyed. Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC, said: "Today's troubling findings show just how slow the pace of change has been ... They suggest it's time not just to send out the head-hunters to find some of those 'missing women', but to address the barriers that stand in their way." The EOC warns that the absence of women in key decision-making posts means democracy is at risk.

The report says women from ethnic minorities account for just 0.4 per cent of FTSE 100 directors and 0.3 per cent of parliamentarians. The EOC is calling for an extension of the right to request flexible working to all, and the availability of more high-quality, well-paid flexible and part-time work at higher levels.

It also wants political parties to target women's representation before the next election.