Quickening the pace of gender equality

Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned Scottish businesses that they must ‘inject new momentum’ into improving women’s representation or risk stalling  the progress already made.

The comments follow recommendations made by the Hampton-Alexander Review to FTSE companies about increasing the number of women on their boards.

Their recent report found the proportion of women on FTSE-100 boards had doubled, from one in eight in 2011 to more than one in four in 2017, but progress was much slower last year.

The First Minister was addressing senior business leaders at a Hampton-Alexander Review event, hosted by the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh last night, which aims to encourage more Scottish companies to adopt their recommendations.

She said: “The Hampton-Alexander Review highlights some clear improvements made in boardroom gender equality in recent years. While welcome, these changes are not nearly enough. Indeed, there are signs progress slowed or even stalled in 2017.

“This year, which marks the centenary of woman’s suffrage in the UK, is an opportunity to inject new momentum into improving female representation – not simply at board level, but across the economy as a whole.

“As a result of the wide-ranging debate on inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment against women, there is rightly more scrutiny on equality in the workplace than ever before. There is also increased transparency about board appointments and pay.

“Public tolerance of gender inequality has never been lower. And the reputational damage to organisations that are too slow to make change – be they businesses, political parties or others – has never been higher.

“Many companies now realise that more equal representation in the boardroom, and in senior positions, improves businesses and benefits the bottom line. Crucially, it is an important step in achieving gender equality across society, as we work together to create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”