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March 7, 2012

Profession steps up support for boardroom diversity

The accounting profession has expressed its support for diversity in the boardroom following the European Union’s notice it will be pressing ahead with mandatory quotas to increase the number of women on UK boards. Deloitte has launched a programme aiming to develop women to a boardroom level. The six month programme will facilitate women’s networking with peer board members and familiarise them with the workings of the board and the skills required.

Deloitte decided to launch the programme after client feedback and research found women often struggle finding their way to the top of a FTSE company and need to learn the ‘boardroom language’.

A Deloitte report found women currently only hold 16% of non-executive director roles across FTSE 350 companies and it will take 20 years before women represent 30% of the boards of the same companies.

“Without doubt, there should be more women across boards in all UK companies. There is a wealth of research which demonstrates companies with women in senior positions perform better and by offering this programme we hope to see this figure increase.” Deloitte compensation and benefits practice vice chairman and senior partner Carol Arrowsmith said.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) also publicly expressed its belief that “diversity in the boardroom is key to delivering financial performance”.

ICAEW executive director Sharron Gunn explained it is difficult “not only to get more women into senior positions, but also to make sure their talent is developed and retained.”

“I think the key issue here is to challenge the organisational pipeline of senior executives and future leaders immediately below board level, as these are the people who will be on the board in future.” Gunn said.

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