Reflections

A Magazine of Theological and Ethical Inquiry from Yale Divinity School

Sidebar: A Notorious List

One critic called the list pitiful and patronizing. Another said it reads like a bad comedy skit. A list of “worst explanations” was circulated this year by a British government report – a survey list of the worst reasons given by United Kingdom businesses for not appointing women to their boards.

The responses come from various CEOs or other leaders of corporations of the FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) 350. Making the list of worst reasons:

1. “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment.”

2. “There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex.”

3. “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”

4. “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”

5. “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board.”

6. “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”

7. “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn.”

8. “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman.”

9. “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector.”

10. “I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to.”

“As you read this list of excuses you might think it’s 1918, not 2018,” said Amanda Mackenzie of Business in the Community, an organization that promotes progressive UK business practices.

“Maybe those that give credence to these excuses are the ones that are not up to sitting on boards and should move over: We are in the 21st century after all. However, we have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The combination of gender pay gap reporting and the increased focus on equality and diversity in general by responsible businesses means there are more women on boards than ever before. While we still have a long way to go, with the collaboration between government, employers and their employees (both men and women), we could see true equality in our lifetime.”

Source: “Revealed: The worst explanations for not appointing women to FTSE company boards,” May 31, 2018, gov.uk.

Issue Title: 
Sex, Gender, Power: A Reckoning
Issue Year: 
2018