Less than 6 per cent of directors in UK companies are female, despite women
now making up almost half the workforce.
A study of 568 UK companies on the FTSE All-Share index by the Ethical
Investment Research Service (EIRIS) shows just 5.3 per cent of directors are
Publishing group Pearson is the only company in the FTSE 100 to have a
female chief executive, Dame Marjorie Scardino.
Duncan Brown, assistant director-general of the Chartered Institute of
Personnel and Development, said one reason for women’s under-representation at
senior level is that good people management practices are often not applied to
"Recruitment processes have been lacking. Potential people in
disadvantaged groups, such as women, are not being picked early and
developed," he said. "Excluding 50 per cent of the pool is a damning
indictment of how boardrooms are run."
However, Ruth Lea, head of the policy unit at the Institute of Directors,
said headhunters were "looking desperately" for female directors, but
that the pool of available talent was quite small.
"It’s not as if women with appropriate qualifications are not being
used," she said. "We have an increasingly large proportion of women
on boards, but on average, women aren’t as interested. I don’t think we’ll see
50 per cent of women making up boards; many prefer to have a family. It is
self-selection, not discrimination."