PM urges more women in boardrooms
Britain's economic recovery is being held back by a lack of women in the boardroom, David Cameron has warned.
The Prime Minister said there was clear evidence that ending Britain's male-dominated business culture would improve performance. And he pledged to learn lessons from Nordic and Baltic countries as he joined eight of their leaders for a summit in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
Securing promotion for women and encouraging female entrepreneurs is one of the two central themes of the Northern Future Forum. The annual gathering, launched by the UK last year in London, brings together governments from the nine countries with experts to discuss shared issues.
This year, the leaders will also discuss how to ensure workers can continue in employment until a later age amid fears over the rising cost of pensions.
Mr Cameron said: "The drive for more women in business is not simply about equal opportunity, it's about effectiveness. It's about quality, not just equality. That's why one of the things we'll be discussing in Sweden is what other countries are doing to help women become entrepreneurs and take up leading positions in business.
"Women now make up nearly half the workforce across Europe and the majority of university degrees. But they are still not sufficiently represented at the senior boardroom level.
"The evidence is that there is a positive link between women in leadership and business performance, so if we fail to unlock the potential of women in the labour market, we're not only failing those individuals, we're failing our whole economy."
At present, just 15% of FTSE 100 directors are women. A Government-commissioned report last year said quotas should be imposed unless top firms acted to increase the number of women on their boards to at least one in four by 2015.
Labour's shadow minister for women Yvette Cooper said: "Increasing the number of women on boards is important, and helps business and the economy. But warm words from the Prime Minister are not enough when the reality is that his own Government policies are holding both women and the economy back.
"As long as the Government is weakening action on the gender pay gap, pushing up women's unemployment, cutting support for childcare, and exploring options for weaker maternity rights, they are making it harder not easier for women to get promoted throughout their lives. And that makes it much harder to get women to board level too."