On the Women on Boards update report from Lord Davies, practical steps need to be taken to increase the number of women on boards:
Audrey Williams, partner and head of discrimination at global law firm Eversheds, says: “There are a number of key practical measures that must be put in place to help to increase the presence of female board members: The first relates to one of the recommendations from Charlotte Sweeney, where she called for more guidance on the use of women-only shortlists. There is certainly a need for clarity on whether this practice is lawful as the difficulty with all-women shortlists is that it requires a selection to be made on the basis of gender, which, on the face of it, directly contravenes fundamental principles of EU law prohibiting sex discrimination.
John Heaps, chairman at global law firm Eversheds, says: “The second is around sponsorship – either formal or informal. Recent research highlighted that women are being overlooked for board positions due to lack of recognition. At critical times in your career it’s important to have someone who will speak up for you; a person who will sponsor your interests when the key conversations are taking place. This approach, while fairly well known, is surprisingly underutilised and could make a significant impact in redressing the gender imbalance on UK plc boards.”