Businesses in Birmingham are ‘limiting their own potential’ by not including enough women on boards, the Women’s Equality Party has said.

The comments come after exclusive analysis by BirminghamLive highlighted the startling lack of female representation in boardrooms in our area.

The analysis - which looked at the top 200 companies in the West Midlands by net worth - found that only 19 per cent of company officers were female.

It also revealed that two thirds of directors and secretaries - which make up company boards - were over the age of fifty.

You can find out what a typical boardroom would look like in your area by using our interactive presentation below.

The Hall of Memory in the foreground of work to rebuild Centenary Square
The Hall of Memory in the foreground of work to rebuild Centenary Square

The analysis was done by downloading company data from Companies House.

We then searched each company in our area on website Company Checker, to find their net worth.

It includes both public listed and private companies - whereas previous studies have tended to focus only on those in the FTSE350.

The gender of company officers was determined by their first name.

This means that a small number of company officers gender neutral names may have been assigned the wrong gender.

In 2016 the Hampton-Alexander Review set five key recommendations aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership positions of FTSE 350 companies.

A spokesperson for the department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Diversity is good for businesses and for the communities they serve and in less than a decade we’ve seen the number of all-male FTSE 350 boards fall from 152 to just two and the proportion of women on FTSE 100 boards more than double.

“But we want to see greater diversity right at the top, which is why we back the independent, business-led Hampton-Alexander Review targets for women to hold a third of senior leadership positions and board positions in FTSE350 companies by 2020.”

 

Harini Iyengar, the Women’s Equality Party spokesperson on Equal Representation said equal representation on boards was not only important in terms of opportunities for individuals, but also because evidence shows companies with better gender diversity at board level are more profitable.

She said: “It should be self-evident that by only drawing on half the country’s talent pool, businesses are limiting their own potential.

"There’s a popular fear that quotas would permit mediocrity, but this assumes that job recruits start from a level playing field.

“In fact, inflexible working structures and the lack of support for those with family responsibilities prevent many women from progressing as far as their talents and skills should allow.

“The introduction of quotas would push companies to create working environments where flexibility and a good work-life balance are usual practice.

“This would enable not just women, but all employees, to thrive at every level.”

 

She said the Women’s Equality Party believed quotas were necessary as a short term measure to improve representation, and were campaigning for a legal requirement that no more than 60% of board and executive committee posts be held by one sex.