Recent reports of failing markets overseas remind us that global economies are joined at the hip. What happens in one part of the world impacts what happens in another. The same is true of the Women on Boards movement. Companies in the United States should see European government diversity quotas as a call to action. They should pay particular attention to what’s happening in the U.K. where quotas are not being considered, but clear guidelines are being suggested.
On Friday we spoke with Henrietta Royle, of the U.K.’s 30% Club, an organization committed to bringing more women onto U.K. corporate boards. Club members are chairmen who work to fulfill the goal and recruit other chairmen to support the mission. To date, 25 chairmen are members of the 30% Club.
Henrietta said that what’s happening in the U.K. is similar to what’s happening in the U.S. “It’s a question of supply and demand,” she said. “Plenty of supply, no demand.”
England’s SEC equivalent, the Financial Reporting Council, issues governance codes of conduct for public companies. Like SEC rules, companies are required to report on how they apply the codes, confirm whether they have complied, and if not, explain why not.
The FRC is way ahead of the SEC on board diversity. They are considering amendments to the code that would require companies to publish their policy on gender diversity in the boardroom and report annually. The idea came out of the ‘Women on Boards’ report released by Lord Davies last February. The report, commissioned by the government, recommended that company boards aim for a minimum of 25% female representation by 2015. The FRC is now contemplating reporting options.