Women must step into business roles if the UK wants more female CEOs, says outgoing Premier Inn boss
Women must take center stage and move into business roles if the UK wants more female CEOs, according to the Premier Inn owner’s outgoing boss.
Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said the key to having more female FTSE patrons is “to develop the pipeline”.
The 57-year-old said there is a “talented group of women waiting” to take over as CEO, but too many are in “functional roles” such as human resources.
Up for promotion: Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, says the key to having more female FTSE bosses is ‘to grow the pipeline’
When she leaves Whitbread at the start of the year, only nine of the UK’s 100 largest listed companies will have a female CEO.
Brittain holds one of the most important positions in football, a traditionally male-dominated world. The Manchester United fan will become the Premier League’s first female president.
Brittain spoke about the importance of companies setting diversity goals, but said she was “not a big fan of quotas”.
And she said yesterday, “The key is always the pipeline. He encourages women to come through the business aspects of our business and move up to senior management, not only in functional roles, but also in business roles.
“I think we also need a little encouragement, from the point of view of having a few people here showing that it can be done, that you can manage your work and your family life and everything.
“It’s never easy, but it’s doable. I think there is good [female] models now in the FTSE 250.’
Gwen Rhys, chief executive of Women in the City, which champions women in business, agreed that women tend to put themselves, or be put by men, in “soft skill” areas, including resources human resources and training.
She said “they don’t have profit and loss responsibility early enough.”
Whitbread, meanwhile, showed a profit of £307m for the six months to September, recovering from a loss of £19m a year ago.
Sales were a quarter higher than pre-Covid at £1.35billion.