Number of women directors in top firms rises

New
research indicates a turnaround in the number of women directors running
Britain’s top businesses.

The
Female FTSE research, by Cranfield School of Management’s Centre for Developing
Women Business Leaders, reveals that following two years of falling numbers of
women directors in the FTSE 100 companies, numbers have increased.

This
year – the fourth year the research has been carried out – there are more
female directors than ever before.  Up
to 7.2 per cent of all FTSE 100 board directors are female – an increase of
seven women, thus making 75 in total compared to 68 last year.

However,
it is in executive director posts that a significant increase has been seen,
with a 50 per cent improvement from 10 in 2001 to 15 in 2002.

Marks
& Spencer tops the table for the second year running with a 27 per cent
female board – two female executive directors and a female non-executive
director. J Sainsbury comes a close second with a 25 per cent female board, one
female executive director and two non-executive directors, a significant
improvement on its 27th place position last year.

Susan
Vinnicombe, director of the Centre for Developing Women Business Leaders at
Cranfield School of Management, who co-authored the report, said: "The
increase in the number of female executive directors in the FTSE 100 this year
is particularly pleasing. If this increase of 50 per cent per annum continues,
we will have gender parity on corporate boards in seven years. Yet, with the
median total earnings of FTSE 100 lead executives passing £1.5m this year,
gender parity would require a quantum leap in male attitudes to power-sharing
and remuneration for women."

By Ben Willmott

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