Is there a single answer to getting more women in boardrooms?
There is no silver bullet for boardroom equality, panel says
This was what the panel concluded as Cass hosted a stimulating breakfast debate about women in the boardroom last week.
Lynne Berry OBE, Vice Chair of the new Waterways Charity, suggested that the struggle to get women to the top levels is a deep rooted problem and couldn't be addressed with a single solution.
She stated that it is important to have more women on boards as they bring a sense of responsibility and a new approach to business. However, it could take up to 15 years for the situation to improve, she argued.
Part of the problem according Dr Farhad Dalal, psychotherapist and author of Thought Paralysis, The Virtues of Discrimination, is that organisations tend to come at the issue through training, drawing upon issues of etiquette and trying not to offend people rather, than putting procedures in place - "thinking has become increasingly paralysed."
Dr Louis Ashley, Research Fellow at Cass Business School, said that we continue to take it for granted that men are at top levels while women have to work their way up. She suggested that having a quota system may be a suitable option as it creates a greater sense of urgency.
The panel which also included writer and journalist, Viv Groskop and Jane Christopherson, partner at The Curzon Partnership, agreed that education is an important area which could improve the chances for women succeeding at top levels. Viv Groskop said that: "If we are going to be educating people equally we have to create an equal playing field." Jane Christopherson argued that some careers are stigmatised with some women not wanting to work in areas like oil and gas, which are predominately seen as male careers.
The panel agreed that there are a variety of areas that need to change and according to Lynne Berry, it's a case of "you've got to see women everywhere to know you can be anywhere."