May 30, 2012 -- As both this week’s BBC News research and Lord Davies's recent report on the number of women in UK boardrooms demonstrates, the still glacial rate of progress continues to give cause for concern. But, there is one fast-growing high-tech Scottish company which has already exceeded his recommended targets twice over.
While women occupy, on average, 30.9% of the most senior positions according to the BBC, and the former banker's review has urged doubling of representation on FTSE 100 companies to 25%, Bio-Images Research, an established leader in the clinical study of pharmaceuticals, and its sister company Drug Delivery International (DDi) have a 50-50 male-female split on both boards.
The gender balance is reflected in the make-up of the rest of the Glasgow-based enterprise's workforce and, significantly, the full time operational management team is exclusively composed of women.
However, as Dr Carol Thomson, DDi's chief operating officer and one of the longest serving members of the team, stressed, neither executive nor operational positions in the group have anything to do with quotas, but are decided by the talent of the individual, regardless of gender.
She said: "The gender balance at Bio-Images and DDi works particularly well at both board and research levels. There is no question, though, of positive discrimination and all appointments are made on merit alone."
The subject has been the topic of heated workplace discussion over the merits of compulsory quotas after countries such as Iceland and Norway have embarked on the legislative route and introduced fixed numbers of women at board level.
The Davis review said the time for compulsion had not yet arrived in the UK and insisted instead on voluntary methods to increase boardroom diversity. Lord Davis has been pointing to research linking company performance increases to a more balanced gender division.
At Bio-Images Research, the board is made up of co-founder and chairman Professor Howard Stevens, chief operating officer Dr Lee Ann Hodges, director of corporate strategy Ian Stillie and director of regulatory affairs Dr Sarah Connolly.
The DDi board is made up of Professor Howard Stevens, Dr Thomson, chief scientific officer Alex Mullen and development director Fiona McInnes.
The companies' research teams are also fairly evenly divided along gender lines, said Dr Thomson. But she stressed that diversity of thought, together with independent and creative problem solving skills, are of considerably more importance to the businesses than gender.
She said: "At Bio-Images and DDi, we are operating in an international environment, we are involved in significantly diverse marketplaces, and we recognise the value of individual talent across the spectrum.
"It makes sense that companies which want to compete internationally will want to have the best talent on their teams and it is very encouraging that women are providing such impressive depth to that global talent pool."
For further information, contact Dr. Carol Thomson at Drug Delivery International, Bio-Imaging Centre, Basement Medical Block, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 84 Castle Street,
Glasgow, UK, G4 0SF. T. +44 (0)141 552 0126. E. firstname.lastname@example.org