Cable starts review of board appointments

BUSINESS secretary Vince Cable yesterday launched a review into how headhunters select candidates for executive positions, amid fears that women and minorities are still missing out on top jobs.

Charlotte Sweeney, a former head of diversity at investment bank Nomura, has been appointed to investigate whether the executive search industry is sticking to the voluntary code of conduct agreed back in 2011.

“The argument for greater female representation in the top positions of our biggest companies is clear,” Cable said. “We’re committed in seeing this happen and the code has played a big role in the progress we’ve seen to date.”

Just three FTSE 100 chief executives are currently women: Carolyn McCall at EasyJet, Angela Ahrendts at Burberry and Imperial Tobacco’s Alison Cooper. Women make up just six per cent of executives at this level, despite persistant attempts to improve representation.

The voluntary code of conduct was introduced as a direct result of Lord Davies’ 2011 review into the number of women on boards. The code includes nine guidelines, such as ensuring that at least 30 per cent of shortlisted candidates are female and working with companies to ensure firms have well-defined diversity targets. It also says recruiters should give weight to personal qualities rather than just experience.

Sweeney will spend the forthcoming months interviewing chairmen, directors, investors and recruiters over the forthcoming months before submitting her report in December.