Tag Archives: female board members

Why more women make business sense

Why aren’t there more female board members in the UK motor industry? Because if there were, businesses would be more profitable.

Starting with an example of best practice, let’s pay a tribute to Rolls Royce and the bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group who are aiming to increase female board membership to 23%.

Compared to many of the Top 10 dealership groups and other car manufacturers, for example, where there are very few female board members if any.

Clearly those with a traditional male culture don’t realise that women on boards can have a positive impact on their bottom line? Such is the evidence in Lord Davies ‘Women on Boards’ report (2011) which states that “Companies with more women on their boards tended to outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return in sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.”

Of course it isn’t just the motor industry that is slow to realise this; just 12.5% of FTSE 100 Board members are women, one in five have no women in their boardrooms and this drops to an average of 7.8% for all FTSE 250 companies.

Nonetheless Lord Davies is calling for UK companies to commit to an ambitious target of 25% female board membership by 2015. I’d love to think the UK motor industry would commit to this, knowing the problems it has recruiting young women into automotive careers as well as the poor image it has in so many female customer minds.

A couple of clues were identified during research carried out by Cranfield University. They found that there is a lack of flexibility around work/life balance (to do with families in particular) and that traditional male cultural environments, the old boys network and a lack of networking opportunities for women are major deterrents for qualified females who might otherwise make good board members.

I identify with these issues in the motor industry. But I do not agree with one of the suggested solutions, which is to provide more training opportunities for women. May I suggest that it is the men that are more in need of training about women if women are to be helped to contribute their talents and to flourish in this industry.

I can understand why female board members are good for the bottom line and, with the right female board members empowered to encourage others in their wake, I think it is possible to move quite quickly from a male cultural environment towards a healthier gender diverse workplace. Providing the business wants to adopt a more female friendly agenda in future that is.

Automotive Careers Champion

Find out more about Steph Savill @ LinkedIn