Tuesday, 23 October 2012


The EU proposal that all boards of directors must be composed of at least 40% women comes not a moment too soon.  For far too long, Britain's top companies have relied for their management almost entirely on men.  It is almost 2 years ago now that the UK Government decreed that companies should make more efforts to recruit women into their boardrooms.  Within a year, the percentage of women directors had increased in fact to about 15%; some companies had even achieved 25%.  By now, probably the proportion will be more like 17.5%.

Probably.  But it's still not 40%.  So it does appear that the only way to make sure women achieve their proper position in the workplace is to establish a quota.  A board shouldn't just take on men without looking properly at the balance of talents among its members and its demographic profile.  But do they do that?  Well, some of them clearly do.  But that's all.  Progress towards breaking the stranglehold that men have on boardrooms is lamentable slow.  So legislating that 4 out of 10 board members must be women is the way to overcome their reticence.  It will also put a stop to them complaining that they are far too busy to get involved in the world of big business - they will simply be compelled to play their 2/5ths part.

For as long as I can remember, I have heard nothing but female complaints about the way businesses are run. Well now, with this new EU equality law, they will jolly well have to get up off their bottoms, get out there into our boardrooms and pull their weight.

I can't mow the lawn; I've got all this washing to do or dinner's a bit late because I had to do the ironing today.  How often have we heard these lame excuses for not taking on a real job?  And, despite little tasks being used as a pretext to avoid proper work, there's still a long way to go before they add up to the professional expertise women will now be able to demonstrate in the boardroom.  Where's that blue sock I put out for washing a month ago for example?  And look at my pyjama bottoms, do you call these creases straight?  No.  And don't get me started on the dust on my CD shelves.  So, if managing simple labour-saving devices is not exactly women's expertise, a directorship will certainly allow them to spread their wings.  And about time!

You won't need ever again to moan that the housekeeping never quite seems to stretch to cover all the shopping, while men seem to have plenty of cash even to pop into the pub on the way home.  From now on, the wise men of Brussels have ensured that you will earn your own keep.  And no more putting down your mop and flopping into the settee mid-morning to enjoy a mug of cocoa; you are just going to have to pull up your socks (I see you have both of yours) and buckle down to some 9 to 5 labour.  Thanks to the equality-conscious men at the EU, you girls have no need anymore to complain that you are stuck at home all day while men go out and meet people and have lunch and enjoy dubious business trips with their secretaries - now you'll have to do it too. 


  1. LOL. Do I detect the slightest trace of irony here?

  2. Well, I am certainly against quotas. I saw how similar quotas caused awful problems in South Africa (imposed for equally good reasons). But I do think women should be encouraged to think boardroom, not be resigned to second class careers or housework (or both). there are undoubtedly potentially some good female directors out there, but companies have a duty to give women equal training, equal experience and an equal opportunity to shine (or cock up)(maybe not the best colloquialism here).

  3. But I mean this isn't serious. My husband and I were both full time workers for 30 years, despite the fact that we had 4 children (one being autistic. 2 were my step children, but the other two were mine. I am proud to say that my husband as well as myself were equal at home. Washing, ironing, housekeeping, shopping was done together. I even solved the sock problem. 3 men at home, all wearing the same colour socks as the boys got older and a sock wash once a week meaning 42 socks to pair off. Easy done, just throw them in a pile and let them help themselves. As far as women or men in top jobs. I don't care. The best should do the job. If a woman is better than a man in the job, then why not and if the man is better then he should do the job. I was an export clerk, my husband a procurist for his company, meaning a few journeys abroad. You just have to work it out and I am glad I could do a full time job with responsibility. Just a matter of organisation. I know if I had a board job, Mr. Swiss would have been only to happy to do the job at home. And I never ever thought about going out for a coffee or missing it with the other women. There is so much to be gained from life if you get down to it yourself. Perhaps I am more the exception as the rule.

    1. I don't think you are the exception actually, Pat. Someone has to do the work in the house and someone has to earn money. Both partners can share both if they sort it out together (as you say). But I think that forcing companies to employ women as directors, and to do so whether they are capable or not, is just a silly law.

  4. Creases in pyjama bottoms? Seriously, you iron pyjamas?

    Encouraging women into board rooms can best be done not by dictate, but by providing excellent child care and a culture that encourages men to do their fair share around the house.