Women ‘blocked from boardrooms’

Nearly one in five women believe it is almost impossible for a female to reach a senior management role in business, according to a report.

In a survey of 2,000 working women by communications giant 02, half replied that all the decision-makers in their company were male.

A review into diversity has recommended that 25% of company boards should be made up of women, but the report said progress towards meeting the target was not moving fast enough.

More than a quarter of those polled said they dreamed of becoming a chief executive, but a third said they had failed to meet their career expectations, blaming poor quality line management, a lack of training and negative office politics.

Women said good luck often led to success in business, rather than skill, ambition or determination.

Ann Pickering, O2's HR director and board member, said: 'As an employer, today's findings make for uncomfortable reading.

'We want all our people - male and female - to feel supported and encouraged throughout their career, and it's crucial that we remove any stumbling blocks preventing them from fulfilling their ambition and potential.

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'Our research shows that, while the diversity debate has moved on outside of the office, not enough women are actually seeing this progress at work. If we're to achieve sustainable and long-lasting change, we can't just look at women already at the top, we need to focus our efforts on women at every level, creating a strong pipeline of female talent across British businesses.

'If we fail to do this, there is a very real risk that these women will seek these opportunities elsewhere.'

The report was launched as part of a new guide aimed at helping women reach the highest levels in business.

Lord Davies of Abersoch set a target of achieving 25% of women on company boards by this year when he started a review in 2011.

Figures last year showed that women accounted for 20.7% of board positions in the FTSE 100, up from 12.5% in 2011 and 17.3% in 2013.

For a special report on women and flexible working see business supplement on Wednesday January 21, by business writer Jessica Staufenberg. Contact 01603772531 or jessica.staufenberg@archant.co.uk