Leading companies in the UK have been described as “pitiful” and “patronising” after coming up with feeble excuses to explain why they have not promoted a single woman to their corporate boards.
One company claimed that women would not understand the “extremely complex” issues covered during board meetings, while another excused its all-male leadership group by claiming that “board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman”.
A third said that “most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”.
Video: ‘Leadership layer is predominantly male’
Business minister Andrew Griffiths said: “It is shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from top jobs.
“Our most successful companies are those that champion diversity.”
The excuses were all made to the team working for the Hampton-Alexander Review, which is backed by the government and scrutinises the gender balance of boards at the top of Britain’s leading companies.
It is aiming for women to hold a third of senior positions.
Among the explanations given for not employing more women were these:
The latest statistics on the number of women in Britain’s boardrooms will be announced at the end of June.
It follows the publication of data about the gender pay gap from more than 8,000 companies earlier this year.
Sky, the owner of Sky News, said women made up 39% of its senior workforce. The target is 50-50 by 2020.
Sky defines its senior workforce as the top 400 senior management roles.
Three women sit on its group board – Deborah Baker, Mai Fyfield and Debbie Klein – out of 11 in total.