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Britain’s businesswomen must make their presence felt | Observer letters

The Two Percent Club, the voice of corporate women, is determined to address the lack of females in boardrooms

If the economic answer to developing better performing businesses is skilled and capable women working alongside equally talented men, then it is time that these women stand up and be counted; that they take some responsibility for the issue of the under-representation of women at the top of corporate Britain.

Everyone has been looking to chairmen, chief executives, politicians and head hunters to ensure that more talented women reach the top levels. Until now, there has been no push on what we, the women, can do to support and address this serious issue.

The Two Percent Club, “the voice of corporate women”, resolves to support companies, their leaders and their aspiring female talent to achieve better-balanced businesses. We believe that the problem is threefold:

• The issue lies not in the boardroom, but the talent pipeline.

• This is a business issue, not just a FTSE 100 issue.

• Women are not blameless in this.

As skilled, capable and successful women, we pledge to work together to create sustainable progress for better balanced business.

Heather Jackson, founder; Linda Pollard, national chair; Liz Bingham, Ernst & Young; Judith Moreton, Little Blue Private Jets; Helen Ridge, Pinsent Masons; Helen Cook,

RBS

Karen Caddick, Senior HR Professional

Natalie Ceeney, CEO, Financial Ombudsman

Pat Chapman-Pincher, Chairman, The Cavell Group

Carrie Hindmarsh, CEO, M&C Saatchi

Julie Nerney, Portfolio Career

Helen Rosethorn, CEO, Bernard Hodes Group UK

Carla Stent, Partner & COO, Virgin Management

Caroline Rainbird, Director of Corporate Services, RBS

Jayne Hussey, Partner, Pinsent Masons

Fiona Penhallurick, Managing Director, Covanta Energy

Andrew Harrison, Managing Director, Midlands & East of England, RBS

Joëlle Warren, Deputy Chair of The Two Percent Club, North West and Executive Chairman, Warren Partners

Catherine Fairhurst, Partner, Ernst & Young

Vanda Murray OBE, Portfolio Career

Caroline Shaw, CEO, Christie NHS Foundation

Angela Spindler, CEO, The Original Factory Shop

Richard Topliss, MD, Corporate & Institutional Banking, RBS

Norma Corlette, Director, Communities Online

Caroline Donaldson, Director, Kynesis Coaching

Susan Forrester, Audit Partner, Deloitte

Angela Mitchell, Lead Partner for the Scottish Public Sector, Deloitte

Charles McGarry, Director, Warren Partners

Blame poverty for extremism

The root of the current reasons why young adults are turning to extremist opinions is not related to geography, ethnicity or religion (“What made two gang members turn to jihad on London street“, News). There is polarisation, but the root cause of that polarisation is a growing sense among young adults in deprived areas of social injustice – a lack of meaningful employment; a lack of understanding of their cultural identity; a perception of unjust policing, reinforced by an unjust criminal justice system; an unstable home environment and a lack a positive male role models reinforcing a sense of personal isolation. It’s the combination of these issues that results in a lack of self-worth and a lack of connection to the people around them.

People who are vulnerable due to cultural, social or emotional isolation are those who can be exploited the most by people who use social injustice as the tool to exert their will.

Jonathon Toy

Head of community safety

Southwark Council, London SE1

What makes hacks so special?

In his latest attack on Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for effective and independent press regulation, Peter Preston argues that because the press does not like the Leveson package, it should not be implemented (“Let the courts decide on Leveson? That will make things even slower“, Business). This despite the recommendations – with a few concessions to the industry – being set out in a royal charter agreed by all the parties and supported by the victims of press abuse.

His argument is that “a regime nobody [among the regulated] accepts is no regime at all”. Would he apply this to any other industry? To the banks, the police, the security services? If the special pleading and self-serving distortion occurred in any other area, the press would be up in arms.

Dr Evan Harris

Associate editor, Hacked Off

London SW1

Age has no bearing on bigotry

Catherine Bennett (“Don’t older people often say the funniest things?“, Comment) is surely too hard on septuagenarians. I’m nearly 70, but I don’t recognise myself or my contemporaries in her account. Bigotry can be found in all age groups – for example, the BNP and the EDL, whose membership is, I believe, much younger. I worked for Lord Tebbit as a civil servant in the 80s and, though he took a forceful and uncompromising stance that not everyone agreed with, there was no bigotry then. Now, the accolade of CBE (Certified Bigot Extraordinary) might well suit, though there are younger people who equally deserve it.

John Mallinson

Oxted, Surrey

No plum jobs for Britons

It makes me more than a little cross when I read sentences such as: “Finding employees locally is difficult because British workers are not interested in fruit picking” (“Squeeze on migrant jobs alarms UK fruit farmers“, News). My husband’s parents came to England from Ukraine and Italy respectively, and I am not, and never will be, a Ukip voter, but this article failed to explore the question of farmers and migrant workers.

My son would have loved to have found work picking fruit during his summer vacation, but found it impossible to do so. Such jobs are rarely advertised locally, but seem to be handed over to eastern European recruitment agents on the assumption that UK workers don’t want them. In fact, when I approached a strawberry-farming acquaintance on his behalf, I was told: “We don’t employ English.”

Jo Turkas

Canterbury, Kent

School rules? It does not

Scared of the school gate?” (In focus). Definitely yes, and I was a schools inspector.

Professor Colin Richards

Spark Bridge

Cumbria

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