CIPR responds to publication of latest Women on boards review

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has responded to the publication of today's latest annual report from Lord Davies of Abersoch 'Women on boards', which shows that 4 years on from his original report, commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable, female representation at board level in FTSE 350 companies has almost doubled to 23.5% – but has missed the target of 25% by 2015.

This report follows the publication of last month's CIPR State of the Profession survey, which found that the percentage of women at senior level in the PR industry is 48% (board level representation was not identified within the research). The report also found a clear pay inequality gap of £8,483 exists in favour of men, and is a figure that cannot be explained by any other factor such as length of service, seniority, parenthood, or a higher prevalence of part-time work amongst women.

On Wednesday 8 April and Thursday 9 April the CIPR will be hosting two roundtables on the subject of gender equality in public relations with senior PR leaders under Chatham House rules. Those interested in attending should contact CIPR Public Relations & Policy Manager, Andrew Ross, at

Sarah Hall FCIPR, CIPR Board member lead for gender and diversity
While it is good to see an increase in the number of women on FTSE 350 boards, let’s not forget that quotas should only be an interim measure that help to plug the embarrassing shortage of female talent at senior level. While we are still years away from making gender parity a reality (especially at management level), quotas provide a level playing field that we are currently lacking. Ultimately our ambition should be to get to a point where they are not needed and candidates are judged purely on talent. 

It is utter nonsense when organisations state that they are unable to find suitably qualified females to fill senior roles. For a start, this skilled talent is out there and secondly, all businesses have a duty to develop and mentor the female talent they already employ. 

But let’s cut to the chase - it’s the bottom line that does the talking. What’s been proven time after time, most recently via a report by Catalyst called The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards, is that companies with a higher representation of female directors perform significantly better in terms of financial gain. There is no greater argument than this for why C-suite culture needs to change.
Sarah Hall FCIPR, CIPR Board member lead for gender and diversity
Notes to editors

Notes to editors

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).