SMEs are leading the way for women bosses, according to research from the Quoted Companies Alliance. Around a quarter of smaller UK businesses that have recently hired directors or senior managers were actively seeking female managers, while 38 per cent shortlisted women and almost 30 per cent ended up hiring a woman.
This is good news for those who are against a legally binding quota system, as small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are changing recruitment processes without being told to.
However, there is still a lot of work to do. In our feature on women in procurement earlier this year, many women interviewed acknowledged that once they hit a certain level of seniority, the landscape changes and the opportunities diminish as the pay gap widens.
There has been a lot of pressure – both political and public – to appoint more female directors and executives to FTSE 100 companies, which has shown an increase since last February from 12.5 per cent to 16.7 per cent of female directors. But worryingly, the younger, growing businesses are falling remarkably short, with 77 per cent having all-male boards.
Ultimo bra entrepreneur, Michelle Mone, whose interview appears in the September edition of SM and is a speaker at the CIPS Annual Conference in October, would like to see more help in the networking process for women. This was one of a number of concerns voiced at a debate about women in the boardroom, hosted by the Evening Standard, this week in London. The debate was lively but there was a call from many for women who have reached the top to offer support and guidance to those coming through the ranks.
It is important that we are not seen as whinging about the unfairness of it all and instead become more proactive in promoting ourselves and fellow female co-workers and peers.