Ok, so there is "tokenism" in selecting women, say firms

"Still on the nursery slopes"

Leading figures from major law and accountancy firms admit there has been "some tokenism” over the issue of women in senior roles

Simon Collins, chair of KPMG UK, said there has to be organic change to address the problem but “we are still on the nursery slopes”.

Collins was speaking at the Women in Professional Firms: The Male Perspective event hosted by SJ Berwin and Steven Pearce Associates (SPA) last week.

It was the launch of SPA’s latest research report, based on interviews with senior-level men from leading professional firms on why there are so few women at the top of professional firms and what both genders can do, strategically and practically, to obtain a balance.

Accountancy and the legal profession have been criticised for the lack of women in partnership and leadership roles, despite a recent push to instil greater equality.

Collins said that although it is true that some are “paying lip service”, his firm is serious about the issue from the top down.

“There needs to be more organic change. The leadership and tone have to be authentic. It’s incredibly easy to undermine it so it’s vital for those in senior positions to set that tone,” he said.

Mark Bomer, senior partner at BDO LLP, said that it was a very difficult proposition. "How do you make firms more attractive to senior women?

“I admit our firm is not at the forefront but others have done some great things with little results,” he added.

Christopher Saul, senior partner at Slaughter & May, argued that, equality aside, from a business standpoint it represented a poor return on investment of time and money when almost half of his firm's women leave before gaining a senior position.

He admitted that there has been some “tokenism” and that there has to be more tangible action on the issue.

This article can be read in full at economia.

Photograph: Getty Images
Photo: Getty
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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.