Government considering legal case for all-women job shortlists

Kate McCann
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THE GOVERNMENT is looking at the legality of women-only shortlists for board appointments, to help ensure it meets a diversity target set by Lord Davies for 2015.

A report out today details a 10-point plan to beef up a voluntary code for headhunters, to make sure they put forward enough women candidates for interviews at top firms. Among the recommendations is a call for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to guide the industry on whether all-female shortlists would be legal, as well as the establishment of a database of board-ready women.

It also calls on search firms to put forward at least one strongly recommended woman per shortlist, publish the number of women on long and shortlists, disclose their own board’s gender make up, and to promote the code – as well as explaining how it is upheld.

Charlotte Sweeney, who led the review, also wants more research on how gender diversity changes through the executive pipeline, and a industry-wide “compendium of good practice”. She called for the government to use its influence to drive progress.

“The headhunting community is a crucial catalyst to introduce more capable women in the boardroom,” said Vince Cable. Lord Davies has set a target for women to fill 25 per cent of FTSE board positions by 2015.