A study by Harvey Nash / Inspire of how to balance the talent pipeline in business, 2013
The start of 2013 has been marked by a number of high profile calls for companies to be more
transparent in their reporting on the number of women on boards and in business. None will be more
important than those from the Financial Reporting Council, the UK's independent regulator responsible
for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting, requiring companies to disclose the
number of female and diversity executives they employ. Two years on from the publication of Lord
Davies' report Women on Boards, diversity reporting and, more specifically, gender reporting, is now
under intense scrutiny - and rightly so.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), spoke about 'inclusive growth'. Visionary companies, she said,
need to make investing in women a pillar of their business and talent management strategy. This is not
about 'PR' or 'doing the right thing', she pointed out, it simply delivers quantifiable returns.
Looking East, the war for executive talent has never been as fierce as it is today, and it will only intensify
with growing demands from China and other growing Asian economies for Western-trained talent.
Ignoring half of our talent pool - women - will compromise the growth prospects in an increasingly
competitive global marketplace.
Reflecting on the recent US Presidential elections, a record number of women - 141 - ran for election
last year, and women voters were a key focus for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Women are drivers
of economic growth throughout the corporate world and government. Greater awareness of this needs
to be fostered to provide a mechanism of sustainability for women and diversity in organisation talent
However, the shortage of women in the boardroom reflects a deeper problem, and that is the significant
number of women who leave big companies at middle and senior management level. What are their
motivations for opting out of corporate life? And where are they going? Despite some improvement
at non-executive director level, female executive directors are still in short supply, and the reason is
the 'leaking talent pipeline'. As it stands today the talent pool is not sustainable or strong enough to
develop female talent and promote them up the corporate ladder. This continues to be a major challenge
facing businesses around the world, which are struggling with big talent gaps and succession planning
among their middle and senior executives.
The 2013 Inspire board report, The Balancing Act, provides clues as to why women opt out of corporate
life, and what employers need to do to keep them engaged and the workforce balanced.
Download "The Balancing Act" here