British business competes in a global market where innovation, skills and entrepreneurial mindset are essential elements of our success.
We need to draw from the widest and most diverse talent pool and females represent half the opportunity.
To liberate this talent we need to engage with schools at an early stage. We must open minds on career advice, change gender bias in job profiling and we must encourage girls to contemplate roles previously thought to be the preserve of boys. This will ensure the pipeline for promotion is primed with an appropriate gender mix.
In a work environment those in the most senior roles must continue to promote on merit, but remove the obstacles traditionally hampering the progress and retention of women seeking to balance family life with career development. Only by smoothing the pathway to the executive committee and beyond will British boards be populated by talented women whose credentials reside in their executive achievements alongside those that have adopted a portfolio career.
Chairman and chief executives must combine in both belief and actions to harvest the opportunity that gender balance offers.
Sir Roger Carr is Chairman of BAE Systems plc. He is also Vice-Chairman of the BBC Trust and a senior advisor to KKR – the world’s largest private equity company.