Isuzu Trucks’ Managing Director, Nikki King, is an example of the kind of corporate executive the British government would like to encourage.
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As a female on the board of a U.K. company, she’s in a minority. Just 12.5% of board members for FTSE 100 companies are women.
Britain wants to see more female bosses climbing to the top rung of the corporate ladder… and is backing an independent review that aims to accomplish just that.
Helen Alexander is the deputy president of the Confederation of Business and Industry.
“I think it’s about diversity of view, diversity of background, diversity of approach to things and yes, gender comes into that but I wouldn’t stereotype what women offer specifically. I think it’s about getting a range of views around a table and that makes for much better decision making.”
The Women on Boards report urges bosses of FTSE-listed firms to increase the number of women in non-executive positions by at least 25% over the next four years.
King says her rise through the ranks hasn’t been easy and remembers what happened after she got her first big promotion.
“I was told that I would have a male sales manager because I couldn’t possibly manage a male sales team and I can remember the shock and the embarrassment and the humiliation of that, it’s still with me today. I was very lucky because the guy they took on as sales manager tripped over his sons Tonka toy and slipped a disc. And for six weeks I was running a team. By the time he came back they redeployed him because it was obvious I could run a male sales team.”
Forty percent of the management team at Isuzu is women, where the rate of staff turnover has barely changed in 16 years.
Tim Hicks is the general manager of training.
“I think Nikki runs the business like she runs her family. So she cares very much about everybody, she cares very much from her own staff through to the dealer network through to the customers. She bases her management style on that.”
In several other European countries – like Norway, Spain and France – boardroom quotas have been enforced.
They guarantee 40% of top management jobs will go to women over the next six years.
No such quotas have been suggested in Britain – just yet.
Bottom line: Britain is backing an effort to place more women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies but is resisting the quota system adopted by some European countries.