City workers reject quotas as way to get women on boards

Elizabeth Fournier
ALMOST three-quarters of employees in investment banking and hedge funds do not think there should be quotas to help women onto corporate boards, research claimed yesterday.

Seventy-two per cent of financial services staff polled by recruiter Astbury Marsden said that quotas were unnecessary – rising to 76 per cent when they were asked more specifically about roles at vice president level and above.

But the rejection of mandatory requirements for female representation on boards should not be read as a sign that the glass ceiling has already been broken, as just one in 10 of City workers polled agreed that financial institutions already do enough to attract and retain female staff.

The most recent research into the board composition of companies in the FTSE 100 – of which financial services firms make up a significant part – showed that just 15 per cent of posts are filled by women. Of this, only 6.1 per cent are executive positions.

In the FTSE 250 index the numbers are lower, with women holding just 4.4 per cent of exec directorships in these firms.

“There are very few jobs left in financial institutions where intelligence, work ethic and capability do not trump how clubbable an employee is. The need to be blind to gender is engrained throughout recruitment policy across the City,” said Melissa Stierwalt at Astbury Marsden.

Last month EU commissioner Viviane Reding threatened to take the matter out of national hands, saying that the EU was prepared to take legal steps to get women into boardrooms after attempts to encourage businesses to take voluntary steps failed.