Inequality in Queen's Honour Allocations

01/01/2017 - Features

A cursory glance at the table below would suggest that there is an issue brewing, especially given that in 2015 more women than men where named.

But hold on, even I can deduce from the numbers below that the average over the last 7 years is 46.5%. This year it's 46.8%, an increase of 0.3%.

So that’s all fine then. Well no, not really because that’s not the key issue here.

Looking at the New Year honours list 2016, despite women making up 48% of the list, I can reveal that a gender gap still exists for some of the more prestigious honours.

Although the total number of honours was more or less evenly split (52/48%) between men and women, a massive 62% of recipients of the prestigious knighthood / damehood / CBE awards were men - compared to just 38% women.

Men were also more likely to receive an OBE than women, with 55% of the recipients being male (134 males to 109 females). This was an improvement on the 2015 OBE rate which showed a gender gap of 41% vs 59% in favour of men.

When it comes to the lower end, honours are almost even with a 51/49% split in favour of men.

So it is clear that women are missing out on both mid and higher end honours.

Why is this the case? Probably for the same reasons as women fill less of the higher end jobs. Fewer than one in 10 executive directors at FTSE 100 companies are female although what’s really telling is that more than 30% of non-executive directorships at FTSE 100 companies are now held by women. Perhaps the reason why so many more non-executive positions are being filled by women is that the time commitment is much lower – often just a few days a month, allowing women the time to juggle work and family commitments as the onus often falls on them to do so.

Recipients of high-end honours like CBE’s / damehoods / knighthoods are far more likely to include a very strong element of achievement in their working lives e.g. they are likely to be leaders in their field such as medicine, business or academia whereas lower end honours are often awarded to those doing outstanding, hands-on, community and charity work which requires less of a formal time commitment such as 9-5, Monday to Friday. This explains, to a large extent, why women are lagging behind men for top-end honours and why women are holding their own at the lower end. While it’s a shame that this inequality exists, at least we can identify the cause and set about addressing it.

One thing we can all do to address the issue right now is to nominate worthy woman for honours. You have to be in it to win it and I strongly suspect many outstanding candidates are slipping through the net due to apathy.

To find out more about nominating a friend, family member or business contact download my free Ultimate Guide to Queen’s Honours now or call us on 01444 230130.

Alternatively, feel free to forward the Ultimate Guide link to someone who may be interested.

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Sue Hall, Awards Intelligence

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