LONDON – Global law firm Reed Smith hosted a dinner on 9 March for two dozen senior female media and technology executives in recognition of International Women’s Day. The event was both celebratory and sobering. Hosted by Ingrid Silver of Reed Smith, the consensus was that while great strides toward breaking the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ have been made, there is still much work to be done. Clearly, the era of sweeping gender issues under the carpet or considering them a “nice to have” are now officially over. Now, addressing gender issues are not only a societal demand but a business imperative.

Related Professionals: Ingrid Silver

“The deadline for reporting on gender pay gaps is fast approaching and while reporting and transparency are an exciting development and a great example of how regulation can make a difference, the real question is what are we going to do about it,” says Ingrid Silver, partner at Reed Smith. “We want to share what we, as a representative group of senior industry executives, think needs to be done to address the underlying systemic issues which are manifested by the gender pay gap.”

With some 28 per cent of FTSE 100 board seats in the UK being held by women -up from 13 per cent in 2011- there is remarkable lack of progress of promotion of women to senior executive positons, according to the recent Enders Analysis’ Women at Work Report 2018. In the same time frame (2011 to 2018), the number of female executive directors has only risen from six per cent to 10 per cent of the total. Meanwhile, women as a group have been subsumed into the wider diversity agenda, says Alice Enders, author of the Women at Work 2018 report. “Fifty per cent of the population deserves more than 10 per cent of the top jobs.”