AS new research shows the number of senior business roles held by women in the UK has fallen over the past 12 months, the Chelmsford office of financial and business advisers Grant Thornton says more work needs to be done improve boardroom diversity if local companies are to reach their full potential.

Grant Thornton’s annual Women in Business survey found that the percentage of female senior managers in the UK has dropped from 21 per cent in 2016 to 19 per cent in 2017. This represents just a 1 per cent increase on the 18 per cent figure when the survey was first conducted in 2004. The research also revealed UK businesses without any women in top level management positions rose from 36 per cent in 2016 to 41 per cent in 2017.

Lindsey Copland (pictured), associate director at Grant Thornton’s Chelmsford office, said: “Undoubtedly advancements in gender diversity have been made over the 13 years since our study began. But it’s disappointing to see this progression still isn’t reflected to a high enough level across the board.

“Diversity is central to shaping a vibrant economy where people and businesses thrive. It provides different ways of thinking which can open organisations to new perspectives and opportunities.

We need to create an environment that is conducive to all which means a fundamental shift in what leadership looks like. The traditional model where the individual must be perfect and the job all-consuming is still extremely prevalent. This is a real concern as it suggests too many businesses are wasting the full potential of their people.”