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31 May 2018updated 01 Aug 2021 12:40pm

FTSE company boards’ excuses for not appointing women, translated for the 21st century

“I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”, and other riddles.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The government is reviewing the lack of women on top company boards. Here are the top ten excuses it has heard from FTSE 350 company heads – translated for the modern world:

1. “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”

TRANSLATION: “I can’t be bothered to change a culture built on centuries of male domination that I, for some reason, am really familiar and comfortable with but women just aren’t?”

2. “There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex”

TRANSLATION: “I’m secretly terrified that someone will notice I only got to where I am due to white male mediocrity and I actually have no idea what I’m doing and have never truly understood my job. I am a sad ghost in a tie.”

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3. “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”

TRANSLATION: “For some reason women find other jobs to do than work for companies that are disproportionately run by desiccated old sexists like me.”

4. “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”

TRANSLATION: “Our shareholders are also all men.”

5. “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board”

TRANSLATION: “The bigger boys will bully me if I invite a girl to play.”

6. “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”

TRANSLATION: “We haven’t realised yet that true equality is actually over-promoting mediocre and talentless women, like we’ve been doing for men since time began. And I’m one of them.”

7. “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn”

TRANSLATION: “What? That little lady sitting at the end of the table all this time doesn’t make up 50 per cent of the room? Huh? I thought there was an entire coven of them in here!”

8. “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman”

TRANSLATION: “The secret to modern business and the one true way of keeping a company dynamic is never retiring anyone to make room for emerging talent. Unless it’s for a man, of course.”

9. “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector”

TRANSLATION: “And having zero women at the top is *nothing* to do with that at all.”

10. “I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to”

TRANSLATION: “I am lazy as well as sexist.”

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