Proportion of female directors at UK’s top companies falls to 10%

The number of female-held directorships in FTSE 100 companies has fallen over the past year, according to a report from Cranfield School of Management.

The 2006 Female FTSE report showed the number of female board directors is down from 121 in 2005 to 117 in 2006 – just 10% of the total number of directorships available.

More worrying is the new information gathered on the next tier of senior personnel. Of the FTSE 100 companies, only 53 companies have women on their executive committee (the senior team chaired by the CEO), 30 have all male committees and the rest do not reveal their senior executive team.

Companies with the highest percentage of female board directors include pharmaceuticals giant Astra-Zeneca, British Airways and Lloyds TSB.

Val Singh, the report’s co-author, said changes in board composition prompted by the Higgs Review,  which recommended appointing more non-executive directors to strengthen independence, led to more competition for fewer executive seats.

She said: “The research highlights a glass door to the executive boardroom, with a significant lack of women in the senior executive committee, the next generation of female executive and non-executive directors.”

Deputy minister for women Meg Munn described the results were “disappointing”.

“Increasing the number of women at director level can extend a company’s portfolio of skills, provide role models for younger, high-potential women and place companies closer to their customer base,” she said.

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