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UK pushes for women at top

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 02:56

Aug. 24 - 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. Hayley Platt reports.

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Isuzu Trucks managing director Nikki King is an example of the kind of corporate executive the British government would like to encourage. As a female on the board of a UK company, she's in a minority. Just 12 and a half percent 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. SOUNDBITE: Helen Alexander, deputy president, CBI, saying (English): "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. SOUNDBITE: Nikki King, Managing Director, Isuzu Truck (UK) Ltd, saying (English): "I was told well I did understand 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 and for 6 weeks I was running a team and by the time he came back they redeployed him because it was obvious I could run a male sales team." 40 percent of the management team at Isuzu are women, where the rate of staff turnover has barely changed in 16 years. Tim Hicks is the general manager of training. SOUNDBITE: Tim Hicks, general manager of training for Isuzu Truck (UK) Ltd, saying (English): "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." SOUNDBITE: Nikki King, Managing Director, Isuzu Truck (UK) Ltd, saying (English): "Those years I spent bringing up the children were actually invaluable to being a boss. I learnt a lot of skills sets there. I learnt anger management, time management, politics, negotiation and I watch my female senior managers much better at producing results from people by those skills sets that they learnt with the children." In several other European countries like Norway, Spain and France boardroom quotas have been enforced. They guarantee 40 percent of top management jobs will go to women over the next six years. No such quotas have been suggested in Britain - just yet. Hayley Platt, Reuters.

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UK pushes for women at top

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 02:56