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Changing the rules

14 December 2015 by Alexandra Jones

Company secretaries should be proud to be leaders in diversity

Diversity is the issue which really stands out for me in 2015 – this year the FTSE 100 exceeded Lord Davies’ 2012 target of 25% female representation on boards. The progress is set to continue as FTSE 250 companies have more than doubled the number of female board members, although they are still a way off Lord Davies’ recommendation.

Despite the critics who argued that a target could lead to some boards hiring less qualified ‘token’ women, it has had the desired affect.

Companies have voluntarily hired women in top rank positions as ‘organisations with greater gender diversity outperform similar businesses which are not diverse by as much as 15%’ – see Anthony Hilton’s column, 'The cultural challenge', from our September issue. This targets has been be the catalyst of culture change.

In our interview with Dame Barbara Stocking, President of all-female Murray Edwards College at Cambridge University, we touch upon these issues. She explains how gender stereotyping has presented a difficult hurdle for women achieving high-level positions. However, as the female pipeline strengthens the barriers will be become less obstructive. Read for the full interview, 'The rules have changed'.

It is essential, however, that boards are diverse in all areas, not just in terms of gender. David Press, Director at DMJ Recruitment, makes some interesting observations in his column, 'Widening the pool', about the company secretarial profession: ‘The diversity that exists within UK secretariats should be celebrated and promoted ... there is strong evidence to suggest that company secretarial departments across the UK are far more balanced in terms of gender, age, ethnicity and disability than other professions.’ Those working as company secretaries should be proud to be leaders in diversity.

As a final reminder, I would like to ask all our readers to login to their MyICSA and in the preference centre opt in to receive our magazine roundup, G+C Digital.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Alexandra Jones is Editor of Governance and Compliance

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