Imperial Tobacco’s new female chief hits out at positive discrimination for women

Imperial Tobacco’s new female chief has hit out at positive discrimination proposals to get more women into the boardroom.

Alison Cooper, who will take over as chief executive of the firm next month and become only the second British woman appointed to run a FTSE 100 company, said she was “completely against” a campaign to introduce a quota on women in boardrooms, called for by the Fawcett Society.

In Norway, where quotas were introduced, female representation on boards increasing from 6% to 44% in six years.

Cooper told the Guardian: “Trying to force a percentage of woman on boards – I’m completely against all that.”

When asked why she thought so few women had been appointed to run top companies, Cooper said: “People talk about glass ceilings but it is not something I have particularly experienced – but that is only my experience. I find it hard to comment to be honest.”

There are just four women chief executives of FTSE 100 firms: Dame Marjorie Scardino of publisher Pearson, Angela Ahrendts of fashion group Burberry, Cynthia Carroll at mining firm Anglo American, and Katherine Garrett-Cox of Alliance Trust. Of these, only Garrett-Cox is British.

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