Women 1st asks for views on quotas for women on boards

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Women

Debbie White and Lynne Franks discuss the subject of quotas on executive boards
Debbie White and Lynne Franks discuss the subject of quotas on executive boards
Women 1st is encouraging members of the hospitality industry to join a debate on whether or not the Government should introduce quotas for women on executive boards. 

The group, which aims to increase the number of women in senior roles in hospitality, travel and tourism and passenger transport, set up a poll on its Linkedin group to find out what people think about Lord Davies' 2011 recommendation that all FTSE 100 companies should have 25 per cent female representation on their boards by 2015. 

The poll follows a networking event where Sodexo UK chief executive Debbie White and Women 1st patron Lynne Franks shared their own views and found that opinion was split. 

Franks said although it was not Women 1st's view to promote positive discrimination or quotas, as there had been little change in the industry since 2011, she had formed a different view.

"I was at the original breakfast meeting chaired by Lord Davies and, when he talked about quotas, none of us thought it was necessary," she said. "Since then, there has been a huge amount of work on getting more women into leadership roles, but the reality is, they’re not there. So my view has shifted and, personally, I am very keen on having quotas for as long as it’s necessary until we get to that point.

Split opinion

“However, the topic of quotas continues to be hotly debated in the media and among women’s networks – a show of hands at the event revealed that opinion was split – and Women 1st​ is keen to gather people’s views as to whether public opinion is changing.”

White, whose company's senior team is made up of just under a third of women, said six years ago she was 'anti-quotas', but would now vote in favour of it. 

"I thought in the rush to make the numbers, women who were not the best qualified may get appointed, but if you look at the statistics, over 60 per cent of our graduates are women. In my era, over 40 per cent of graduates were women. There are enough very good women out there to do really good jobs, so not having enough women is not the issue.

"Systemic issues such as the organizational culture,  practices and processes that identify and develop talent, the lack of adequate role models and perhaps most importantly our own unconscious biases have got to change if we are to make progress." 

Across the hospitality and tourism sectors women make up 60 per cent of the workforce, but only six per cent hold board level roles with Women 1st aiming to change that figure. 

To cast your vote in the Women 1st poll click here​. 

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1 comment

Board quotas

Posted by Steve Loughton,

It's a shame that Lynne Franks' view might have to prevail ie quotas will be necessary until we get to sufficient quantity (paraphrasing). I never understand why a Board would not want female members. Look at Jill Stein, Pervin Todiwala et al and tell me you wouldn't benefit from their expertise.

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