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“Pitful and patronising” excuses used for excluding women in boardrooms

Written by Varsha Saraogi on Monday, 04 June 2018. Posted in Diversity, People

Women don't fit in, don't want the hassle and struggle with complex issues, were some reasons given for females being underrepresented in FTSE 350 company boardrooms, according to a new report

“Pitful and patronising” excuses used for excluding women in boardrooms

Gender inequality in the top level positions at businesses is not a new debate. Recently, the issue has jumped back in the headlines, with the gender pay gap  among big companies being widely reported. And now a new report has divulged some of the most outrageous reasons why FTSE 350 companies still have so few women on their boards.

The damning report by The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy is part of the Hampton-Alexander Review, which aims to increase the number of women on FTSE boards to 33% by the end of 2020. While the report noted that the number of women in boardrooms have doubled since 2011, some firms seem to be dragging their feet for some really provocative and eye-rolling reasons used by misogynistic males for not including women.

  • “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment.”
  • “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.”
  • “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”
  •  “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”
  • “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board.”
  • “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”
  • "We have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else’s turn”
  • “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment - if there were I would think about appointing a woman.”
  • “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom - there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector.”
  • “I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to.”


The business minister Andrew Griffiths was shocked by the comments described the excuses as “pitiful and patronising” and said they showed how far we still have to go.

Commenting on the report, Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, a business resource charity, said: "As you read this list of excuses you might think it's 1918, not 2018.It reads like a script from a comedy parody but it's true.”

While the country might be seeing statues being erected to honour women, businesses are seemingly lagging behind when it comes to appointing female leaders – not to mention representation of  other minorities and the disabled. Given how a recent report done by Credit Suisse which said that gender-diverse boardrooms saw an jump in shareholder values and all the talented women we write about on a regular basis, we’ve got just one word for these excuses: sad.

About the Author

Varsha Saraogi

Varsha Saraogi

As junior feature writer and a recent MA Journalism graduate, Varsha has joined the Elite team to fuel her passion. Along with being immersed in the money making sector and ranting about women’s rights, she will be hunting for news about everything business related. And burying her head in economic magazines. Follow her on twitter at @msvarshasaraogi for her mundane musings.

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