The Great Debate UK

The absence of women in senior positions – a ‘wicked’ problem



Savita Kumra is a senior lecturer at Brunel Business School. The opinions expressed are her own. Thomson Reuters will host a follow-the-sun live blog on March 8, 2011 to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I get a feeling of déjà vu every time I see a headline decrying the lack of women on FTSE boards. Most recently, focus has been on the dearth of female non-executive directors on such boards and the solution of choice seems to be a number of organizations springing up to ‘mentor’ women so they are ready and able to take up these positions when the call comes.

Quite why this is seen as the way forward; when the approach has been tried for at least 10 years is not fully explained. What is clear is that the painfully slow progress of women onto FTSE boards is a fact and as Rittel and Webber would put it, a ‘wicked’ problem whose solution is as elusive as its continued presence as an issue is frustrating.

A recently commissioned study shows that of the 1,772 non-executive positions available on FTSE 350 boards; only 204 (11.5 percent) are held by women. Of those who make it, we know from work done at Cranfield School of Management that they are more likely than their male counterparts to have titles, they are more likely to have experience in a greater number of sectors and they are more likely to have greater experience serving on minor boards before breaking into the major leagues of the FTSE.

2010: Another year, another crisis


copeland1- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -

If the financial crisis were a theatre production of Hamlet, we would now be at the end of Act III.

The economy: reasons to be miserable


Laurence Copeland- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Is the crisis over yet?

In the last 3 months, the Dow and the FTSE have each risen by about 25 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 by a third. House prices appear to be stabilising in the UK. Stress-tested and backed by seemingly unlimited government funding, the banks are lending again (if only to each other), so that 1-month libor is down to only 0.3 percent.