Number of women on boards approaches 25%

Women on Boards: Top 10 most improved FTSE100 boards. Source: BIS
Women on Boards: Top 10 most improved FTSE100 boards. Source: BIS

The proportion of female board member in FTSE 100 companies now stands at 23.5%, marginally short of this year’s 25% target figure, according to the latest Women on Boards annual report of the Davies Review.

Women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards in 2011, when Lord Davies published his first Women on Boards report, was just 12.5%. Davies asked the UK’s top 350 companies to set targets and recommended that all Financial Times-Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 boards should aim for a minimum 25% female representation on their boards by the end of 2015.

The voluntary approach is working, boards are getting fixed” – Lord Davies

There are now no all-male FTSE 100 boards. Drinks company Diageo and InterContinental Hotels Group lead the way, both with 45.5% female representation on boards. The lowest female representation is at Coca-Cola HBC (with just 7.7% of board members), followed by Schroders (8.3%), Antofagasta (9.1%) and British Land (10%).

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “FTSE 100 boards have made enormous progress in the last four years, almost doubling female representation to just shy of 25%. We must celebrate this outstanding achievement and the change in culture that is taking hold at the heart of British business. The evidence is irrefutable: boards with a healthy female representation outperform their male-dominated rivals.”

He continued that he was confident that the UK will reach the target this year, but added that he would expect to exceed one-third of female representation by 2020.

There are 23 all-male boards in the FTSE 250 remaining, down from 131 in 2011 and 48 one year ago. Household names with no women on their boards include SuperGroup and JD Sports Fashion.

Davies said the rate of change over the past four years had been remarkable: “The voluntary approach is working, boards are getting fixed. We now have to increase the low number of chairs and executive directors on boards and address the loss of talented, senior women from the executive pipeline.”

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Cable adds: “We must also focus on ensuring women are rising fast enough through the pipeline and taking up executive positions. Diverse senior management pools are vital to securing the future corporate competitiveness of the UK.”

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Opportunity Now director at Business in the Community, said that today’s news is a fantastic achievement. “[It] shows that taking a voluntary approach to increasing the number of women at senior levels really does work.” But she added that “simply putting more women in non-executive director roles is not enough.”

Katja Hall, CBI deputy director general, added: “The Government must allow businesses to take the lead in this agenda, but it can also do more to help by extending free childcare, tackling occupational stereotypes in schools and promoting the benefits of flexible working.”

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