BBC chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, stated there was a “profound issue about how you get more women on boards” at last night’s ‘A Seat at the Top Table’ debate on women on executive boards, hosted by the London Evening Standard and Google.
Joining Thomson on the debate panel were barrister and part-time judge Cherie Booth QC; Jasmine Whitbread CEO of Save the Children; Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway and Helena Morrissey chief executive of Newton Investment.
Held at Google’s Central St Giles offices the debate revealed splits over whether there should be legally binding quotas to boost female representation in the boardroom.
Thomson added that, in her opinion, “You can't think that by having targets, succession plans and training plans that you have somehow fixed it, that you can sit back and relax.
“We need to recognise there is a long-term culture change needed. We need to keep our eye on the ball.”
Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway raised the point that, “The majority of board members are non-executives. It is an important role but irrelevant compared with what happens at executive level.
“My fear is that by concentrating on the easy-peasy but we are neglecting the difficult bit that matters. Alpha women needing Beta men... all the extraordinary women in the world, almost all had husbands who were not extraordinary at all”
Cherie Booth was also vocal on the matter claiming that the “glass ceiling” is still firmly in place for women in the UK, adding, “I don't want to be depressing about this because there has been huge progress, but there has been huge progress, but still there is a persistent gender pay gap.”
Save the Children CEO, Jasmine Whitbread, echoed Booth’s points commenting: “We are living with very deep-rooted gender stereotypes. We kid ourselves if we don't think that.”