Liz Field: Companies <i>should not</i> be subject to quotas for female directors

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The Independent Online

Despite working in a male-dominated industry, I believe a quota system is the wrong approach. I do not feel women want this, because of the negative affects it will have, and it will give the perception that a woman got her position because of gender, not because of her genuine talent and skills.

We know there are fewer women than men at senior levels, and the image of our sector is that it is male dominated. While diversity programmes, women's networks and flexible working have been introduced, perception is all, and continuing male dominance could be damaging our ability to attract and retain key talent.

The good news is that employers in our sector are already looking at diversity from board level down and working with the Financial Skills Partnership to identify best practices in this regard. Greater board diversity increases a firm's competitive advantage. By matching the diversity of directors to the diversity of potential customers and employees, a company can increase its ability to penetrate markets.

There is a lot to do and there are fundamentalsthat need to be addressed but, regardless of the Lord Davies report, employers should look at diversity to improve their businesses – not because they have been told to.

Liz Field is CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership

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