The latest update Report from Lord Davies on female representation in FTSE 100 board positions shows that the number has almost doubled in the last four years. Today female representation has reached 23.5 per cent.
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser for the CIPD says:
It’s encouraging to see a strong improvement in the number of women in the UK’s boardrooms in the last four years alone.
Making the most of the UK’s increasingly diverse workforce and creating rewarding employment opportunities for all is key to maximising the UK’s competitiveness.
All evidence tells us that greater gender diversity at board level boosts performance so it’s vital that we not only keep this current momentum going but that businesses and the government work together to find ways to accelerate progress.
Voluntary targets are the best way to achieve this, but these must address both executive as well as non-executive roles for women on the board.
FTSE 250 Directors
But the picture is less rosy over at the FTSE 250, where just 18% of directors are female and 23 companies (including surprisingly the shoe designer Jimmy Choo) still don’t have a single woman on their board. It did start from a lower base: just 7.8% of directors were women in 2011 and 131 companies had all-male boards, compared to 21 over at the FTSE 100. But still a poor show – especially from these 23.
Female Executive Directors
There has also been far less progress when it comes to female executive directors – most of the appointments have been of the non-executive variety. In four years only six more female executives were appointed to the FTSE 100, taking the total to 24. And there are still only five female chief execs and three female chairmen, compared to five and two in 2011.
It remains to be seen whether there will be new and more ambitious targets for women on boards – for example, executive search firm Egon Zehnder has set a target of 25 FTSE 100 women chief execs by 2015. But companies need to work harder on retaining and promoting women to executive level within the company if we are to have any chance of getting even close to gender parity.
And without challenging targets, progress could well slip. Cranfield’s Dr Elena Doldor said:
Our predictions suggest that as we approach 2020, women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards is likely to stagnate around 28%.
There are still not enough women on executive committees or in the executive pipeline. Introducing aspirational and measurable targets for women at all levels is the only way to achieve real progress.
Read the 2015 Female FTSE 100 and other diversity, inclusion and leadership reports in our Knowledge Bank