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Senior Business Positions (Women)

Volume 564: debated on Thursday 20 June 2013

3. What steps she is taking to increase the number of women in senior positions in business. (160634)

We support Lord Davies’s business-led approach to increasing the number of women on boards and our “Think, Act, Report” initiative encourages companies to report on gender equality in the workplace, promoting greater transparency. We have welcomed the recommendations of the Women’s Business Council in supporting women in achieving their potential in the workplace.

I thank Minister for that answer. Jane Atkinson, a senior engineer at Sembcorp in my constituency, does everything she can to act as a role model and encourage girls to take up technical careers. Will the Minister ensure that more role models are identified to show that manufacturing and industry are good careers for girls?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that, whether through mentoring or sponsoring, this is an important way of getting more women up the career ladder and into senior positions. However, we also need to make sure that they are considering non-typical choices in careers, and engineering is an important part of it. May I suggest that he looks at the Conservative Women’s Forum report that was published yesterday, which picks up on many of these issues and offers some practical ways of improving the current situation?

During the financial statement the Chancellor said that his Budget “confronts” our problems “head on”. However, a Treasury team of five men and no women produced a Budget that did not mention women in business once. With such poor gender diversity at the heart of Government, are we missing an opportunity to support female entrepreneurship and women in senior positions in business?

I have to gently disagree with the hon. Gentleman. He will see that at the heart of what the Government are doing is ensuring that every person in this country can achieve their potential. The changes in the tax regime will support women, as will the increases in access to child care that we have already put in place. Actions very much speak loudly on this subject.