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Launch of first ever ‘Bar Nursery’ to support female barristers’ careers

16 Apr

The Bar Council has launched the first ever ‘Bar Nursery‘, a childcare facility in central London, to help barristers with children honour their work and family commitments.

The Bar Nursery at Smithfield House – near the Inns of Court – will offer flexible, discounted childcare from 7am to 7pm for children aged eight weeks to five years old. The idea is to “ease the pressure” on self-employed barristers, who otherwise may be put off joining the profession. The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, may open up further Bar Nurseries across the country, depending on demand.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, says:”It is important that members of the profession are not discouraged from starting a family because of their work, which could have a detrimental effect particularly on the number of women choosing a career at the Bar. It could also see talented practitioners leaving the self-employed Bar for a more stable working life in employed practice, or even another profession.”

It’s not often you hear of initiatives like this that are practical and take care of short-term priorities as well as keeping a long-term view of talent and diversity. If only other professions could follow suit.


Is progress for women leaders a ‘false dawn’, asks Cranfield

12 Apr

In boardrooms across the UK, complacency is once again setting in. After an initial surge of female board appointments, the pace of change has considerably slowed.

The Female FTSE Board Report 2013 from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders is titled: ‘False dawn of progress for women leaders’? It shows that in the first six months after the last report was published in March 2012 that 44% of new FTSE 100 board appointments went to women. But that progress has not been sustained. In the last six months, just 26% of FTSE board appointments were female, and 29% of FTSE 250 board places went to women. Cranfield said this drop was “worrying”.

Overall, the figures look like this:

  • 169 women hold 194 female-held directorships in 93 FTSE 100 boardrooms.
  • This total equals 17.3%, higher than last year’s 15%.
  • There are now seven FTSE 100 companies with all-male boards.
  • Two-thirds of FTSE 100 companies have more than one woman on their board.
  • Burberry is the only company to have two female executive directors.
  • 73% of FTSE 250 companies have women on their boards, up from last year’s 54%

Commenting on Cranfield’s Female FTSE report, its co-author Professor Susan Vinnicombe OBE said: “At Cranfield we have stood steadfast against quotas on the basis that chairmen must understand the benefits of gender diversity and commit to achieving it.  Undoubtedly a number of chairmen do get it and see a gender balanced board as the ‘new normal’.  Unfortunately too many chairmen choose to ignore the issue in the false hope that it will go away.  Viviane Reding’s demanding legislation is on its way and it goes far beyond Lord Davies’ recommendations. It is becoming a matter of urgency for those companies that do not have a gender balanced board to let go of their board stereotypes and appoint more creatively.”

Childcare costs are becoming a luxury fewer can afford

6 Mar

Some nurseries in London cost more than the most expensive boarding schools in the UK, according to the Childcare Costs Survey 2013 from the Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute.

The research found that a place at Britain’s most expensive nursery £42,000, which is 25% more than a place at a top public school – putting childcare from the ‘necessity’ into the ‘luxury’ category in terms of working parents’ budgets.

Even once a child is at school, the costs are still racking up. Parents are paying nearly £4,000 for two children to be looked after before and after the school day – which exceeds that costs of a typical family holiday to Florida.

On average, a full-time nursery place costs £11,000. But this costs 77% more in real terms than it did in 2003, but earnings have stayed the same. This adds to the dilemma of many working mothers: can they afford to go out to work when much of their earnings are eaten up by childcare?

The Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting say they believe that “major root and branch reforms are needed to create a childcare system that gives children the best start in life and that supports parents to work”.

Sex and Power 2013 report shows lack of women at the top

25 Feb

Sex-Power-coverA new report from the Counting Women In shows just how few women there are in the UK’s top political and public sector roles.

The Sex and Power 2013: Who Runs Britain? report says Britain is “falling down the global league tables when it comes to women’s access to power and representation in politics”. In 2001 we were ranked 33 out of 190 countries, but by the end of 2012 we had fallen to 60th place.

The report reveals the lack of women in key roles in the public sector and finance. Women make up just:

  • 22.5% of MPs
  • 17.4% of the Cabinet
  • 13.3% of elected mayors
  • 14.6% of police and crime commissioners
  • 11.1% of UK bank chief executives

The report makes a series of recommendations, including increasing the number of women candidates put forward for election, encouraging more women to speak on the platforms of major events, and for public recruitment processes to be more closely monitored for diversity.

The report concludes: “The lack of diversity in public life weakens democracy and public confidence in it. Women make a positive difference to actual decision-making itself. A more diverse body politic with a wider spread of expertise and reflecting the life experience of both halves of the human race would be better placed to lead us through the complex times that face us. Real, committed and targeted action is required. Failure to do so means the UK will continue to drift.”

Women: do different jobs from men if you want equal pay

28 Dec

The more women do the same jobs as men, they more likely they are to earn less money than them, according to a study of 20 countries by the universities of Cambridge and Warwick in the UK and Lakehead in Canada.

The researchers found that if women do different jobs from men – and there are few men found in that particular profession – then women will have a higher chance of earning more money and reaching the top of their trade.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that where there are equal numbers of men and women working in an occupation, “the men dominate the high-paying jobs”.

From the table below, you can see that pay is most equal in Continue reading

Women on the board are good for business

5 Aug

Companies with at least one woman on their boards outperform those with no women at the top table. That’s according to a study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute.

womaneer women on the board

Having women on the board improves company performance by 26%. (pic:

Its report Gender Diversity and Corporate Performance analysed the performance of 2,400 companies with and without female board directors over six years. Its main conclusion during that period is that companies with at least one woman on the board outperform companies with no women on the board by 26% – and they perform better when markets are falling.

Why is this? The report identifies six reasons why gender diversity is good for business:

  1. It’s a sign of a better company, and is a signal that the business is already doing well.
  2. A diverse board makes all members of the board put in a better performance.
  3. It gives a better balance of leadership skills, because women are generally good at mentoring and coaching.
  4. It gives access to a wider talent pool.
  5. It’s a better reflection of the consumer decision maker.
  6. More women improve corporate governance.

The report concludes: “The debate around the topic has shifted from an issue of fairness and equality to a question of superior performance. If gender diversity on the board implies a greater probability of corporate success then it would make sense to pursue such an objective regardless of any government directive.”

Three-quarters of companies are seeking to put more women on the board

24 May

Board diversity is top of the agenda for three-quarters of the company secretaries, shareholders and non-executive directors that business advisory firm Deloitte spoke to for its At the Helm survey.

Firms are beginning to brief their headhunters and recruitment consultants to broaden the diversity of candidates put forward – though the survey adds: “Although a board is likely to be more effective if it is has a good balance of skills, background and diversity of personal experience, specific issues of gender, age and nationality are less important.”

One in 10 executive board appointments are being filled by women – and almost 30% of FTSE 350 non-executive board appointments in the past year were women, which is more than double the overall proportion of women on boards.

Carol Arrowsmith, partner in the executive compensation team at Deloitte, said: “It is extremely encouraging that since Lord Davies published his report on women on boards, almost a third of non-executive appointments in FTSE 350 companies have been women. However, we also need to look hard at the number of female executive appointments. This is where many of the non-executive directors of the future are likely to emerge from and we are still seeing only one in 10 recent executive director appointments filled by a woman. This is an improvement on the overall number of executive positions held by women, which stands at around one in every 20, but it is not enough.”

She added that Deloitte’s Navigating the Boardroom programme was designed to “familiarise women with the skills and language which will help them find their way successfully onto a board”. She added: “We hope this programme will help increase the number of women taking board positions.”

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