Five-year summary report highlights that FTSE 100 companies have exceeded women on boards target

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29 Oct, 2015

A report has been published today which indicates that the proportion of women on the Boards of FTSE 100 companies has now exceeded the 25% representation by 2015 as set by Lord Davies in his report in February 2011.

The report, the final report into women on boards by Lord Davies, summarises the progress made over the last five years in achieving the initial target set in his 2011 report (link to BIS website).  It also charts the progress made in achieving female representation on the boards of FTSE 250 companies.  The report indicates that:

  • The representation of women on boards has doubled since 2011.
  • The percentage of female-held directorships on FTSE 100 boards has increased to 26.1% from 23.5% in March 2015, 20.7% in March 2014 and 12.5% as of February 2011 when Lord Davies reported.
  • The percentage of female-held directorships on FTSE 250 boards has increased to 19.6% from 18% in March 2015, 15.6% in March 2014 and 7.8% as of February 2011 when Lord Davies reported.
  • There are now no all-male boards in the FTSE 100 – this figure was 21 in 2011.  The number of all-male boards for FTSE 250 companies stands at 15; down from 23 in March 2015.  This figure was 131 in 2011. 

The report calls the reaching of the 25% target a “significant achievement”.  However it highlights that this is part of a “longer journey to improving the gender balance at the top of British business” In order to achieve this, the report highlights that “further work and a renewed focus is required”.  Five “next step” recommendations are proposed in order to continue to increase women’s representation further (taken direct from the report):

1. Voluntary approach

  • The report recommends that the national call for action and voluntary, business-led approach is continued for a further five year period, ensuring substantive and sustainable improvement in women’s representation on Boards of FTSE 350 companies into the future

2. Increased target, more chairs and action from all listed companies.

The report recommends:

  • Increasing the voluntary target for women’s representation in boardrooms of FTSE 350 companies, to a minimum of 33% to be achieved in the next 5 years.
  • All stakeholders to work together to ensure increasing numbers of women are appointed to the roles of Chair, Senior Independent Director and into Executive Director positions on boards of FTSE 350 companies.
  • All FTSE listed companies now assess the gender balance on their boards and take prompt action to address any shortfall.

3. Focus on the executive layer

  • The report recommends that FTSE 350 companies extend the best practice seen at board level to improve gender balance and fundamentally improve the representation of women on the Executive Committee and senior-most leadership positions.

4. Independent steering body

  • The report recommends that an independent steering body, made up of business and subject matter experts with a newly appointed Chair and members, is reconvened to support business in their efforts, act as a catalyst for sustained progress, monitor and report periodically upon progress.

5. Maintaining momentum

  • The report recommends that the newly convened steering body will review the recommendations 1 to 4 above and in consultation with key stakeholders, publish more detailed comments as appropriate, at the beginning of 2016.

The report comes at the same time as the government announced new measures requiring larger employers to publish information about their bonuses for men and women in addition to extending plans for gender pay gap reporting.  The government also announced plans for the elimination of all-male boards within the FTSE 350.  A government consultation which concluded in September asked employers and employees for their views on how, when and where the data should be published. New regulations to set out how this will be achieved in practice are intended to be set out in due course.

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