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Women vote against company board quotas

By Clare Weir

Some 70% of delegates at a major women's leadership conference have voted against the compulsory imposition of quotas for the percentage of women on boards.

Nearly 300 delegates attended the event organised by the Institute of Directors and Chief Executives' Forum, and sponsored by Vodafone and the Department of Employment and Learning.

Although women make up 35% of the global workforce, just 24% of senior management roles are held by women.

The Grant Thornton International Business Report, which was launched at the event, also highlights that the overall median proportion of female executives was 7.1% at successful companies and 3.1% at unsuccessful companies.

Speakers at the conference included Nigel Robbins of UTV Media, Rotha Johnston of Wildflower Property, Sinead Devlin from Emergenetics, Karen Barr of Pentland Training and Catherine Mason from Translink.

Linda Brown, director of IoD Northern Ireland said that the vote shows that most women want to be appointed to board positions on merit and not because organisations have been told they must have more women on board.

"The business case for having a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds in the leadership of an organisation is becoming recognised globally as reflected in the 2013 Grant Thornton International Business Report on women in senior management positions which was launched at the conference," she said.

"It points out that a recent McKinsey review of 100 companies found that those with three or more women in top positions on the executive committee or board scored higher than their peers."

Pauline Quigley, head of Vodafone Northern Ireland said that the high turnout at the conference demonstrates the level of interest by women in leadership in Northern Ireland.

"We are keen to see an increasing percentage of females taking on leadership positions in all sectors of the economy," she said.

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