Women, culture and competitiveness

Alison Maitland's picture

The low representation of women in top roles featured heavily at today's London launch of the annual Cranfield Female FTSE Report, monitoring the progress of women onto boards and executive committees. Maria Miller, UK minister for women and equality, asked what was the cost to the nation's prosperity if 60% of university graduates today are female yet women make up only a small percentage of top leaders. "I want to see a culture change," she said, noting that workplaces were designed by and for men. Lord Davies, author of the eponymous review of women on boards, pointed to the importance of using all the country's female talent to help drive competitiveness: "To be competitive, we've got to get our workforce balance right."

To achieve that culture change and competitiveness, organisations and workplaces have got to become much more future-focused. A great step forward would be for government - and the big business lobbies - to push future work (or "agile" or "smart" work, as some call it) as being hugely beneficial for business and for economic competitiveness, and not just as a way of "accommodating" the needs of individual employees. As we've shown, the shift to new ways of working is positive for business, people and sustainability. For more on the wide range of benefits, see Chapter 4 of Future Work.

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