Cherie Blair warns business leaders not to get complacent about 'glass ceiling'
By Rebecca Burn-Callander Thursday, 06 September 2012
Speaking at the Women on Boards debate in London last night, Cherie Blair stated that despite some progress in narrowing the gender gap on FTSE 250 boards, much more needed to be done. 'If anyone in this room thinks everything is alright for women in the UK,' she said, 'I'm afraid they are sadly misguided.'
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Blair joined the FT's Lucy Kellaway and Save the Children CEO Jasmine Whitbread at the lively panel discussion at Google's headquarters in London Victoria. Following Blair's comments on board quotas for women, Whitbread was asked if she considered herself a feminist. She replied, 'If you are not a feminist you are a dinosaur,' prompting the following retort from Kellaway: 'Well, in that case, I am a dinosaur.'
But Kellaway did agree that it was shocking that only a tiny minority of women hold seats the boards of big businesses: 'The majority of [women] board members are non-executives. It is an important role but irrelevant compared with what happens at executive level. To get women executives coming through your ranks is really, really hard.'
Blair added: 'I don't want to be depressing about this because there has been huge progress but still there is a persistent gender pay gap. We still have the glass ceiling.'