Britain’s top companies have just been set a new target for board seats — a third of all boardroom seats should be held by women by 2020.
The government-backed report into gender diversity led by Lord Mervyn Davies, states the target currently stands at 25 per cent for FTSE 100 companies. Described as a “milestone”, there have also been 500 new female appointments in just over four years.
In the report, the former bank chief said the next five years should see: “substantive and sustainable improvement in women’s representation on boards of FTSE 350 companies.
“Looking back to 2011, I could not have predicted British business would have embraced the Women on Boards agenda as they have, or indeed that the 25 per cent target would have been achieved 6 months ahead of schedule.
“This is truly amazing progress. I cannot thank the many, many businessmen and businesswomen enough for their significant and collective contribution. It has been a privilege to lead this campaign.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said: “Lord Davies has been an inspirational champion; he has thrown the gauntlet down to business and pushed them to do more than ever before.
The government fully supports his recommendations because we are clear, that in order to deliver our commitment to extending opportunity we must do more to secure equality for women in the workplace and beyond.
Currently, the UK has only six female FTSE 100 chief executives: are Kingfisher’s Veronique Laury, Severn Trent’s Liv Garfield, Moya Greene of Royal Mail, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco, easyJet’s Carolyn McCall and Alison Brittain at Whittbread.
Lord Davies added that if the target is not met, then the UK risks falling behind other countries, Lord Davies adds.
Laura Carstensen, Equality and Human Right Commissioner, said: “While there’s been welcome progress in eliminating all-male boards, it’s telling that women are still predominantly recruited to non-executive director roles rather than as executive directors at Britain’s biggest companies.
“Moreover, unlocking talent and economic potential by increasing female board membership shouldn’t just be limited to FTSE100 companies.
“That’s why the Commission is currently carrying out a major inquiry into recruitment practices in the FTSE350. This inquiry will shine a light for the first time on some of the stark challenges and questionable recruitment practices which still remain.”