Women now make up one fifth of top UK boardrooms

 
Elizabeth Fournier

THE NUMBER of women in Britain’s biggest company boardrooms now stands at more than 20 per cent, with just 48 more women needed on FTSE 100 boards before the government’s 25 per cent target is met.

Women now make up 20.7 per cent of all FTSE 100 boards, according to the latest Cranfield Female FTSE board report, leaving just two firms – miners Glencore and Antofagasta – with all-male boards.

Thirty six companies have already reached the 25 per cent target, recommended by Lord Davies following his 2011 government-sponsored review of boardroom gender diversity. Of the 20.7 per cent of board positions now held by women – up from just 17.3 per cent last year – women account for 25.5 per cent of non-executive directorships but just 6.9 per cent of executive directorships.

“Most of the increase in female representation has been non-executive and the IoD (Institute of Directors) believes strongly that we should be looking for better balanced boards at the executive level,” said Lisa Buckingham, senior adviser on diversity at the body.

Significant progress has also been made in the FTSE 250, where women now account for 15.6 per cent of board members. Though that figure has risen from 13.3 per cent last year and 7.3 per cent in 2009, 48 of the top 250 listed firms still have all male boards.

Since the last review the FTSE 100 has gained two woman chief execs – Royal Mail’s Moya Greene and Liv Garfield, who took the helm at Severn Trent last month. But it will soon lose Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts, who will join Apple’s executive board later this year.

“These latest figures show that businesses are getting the right mix of talent around their boardroom table and understand the importance of this,” said business secretary Vince Cable.

Both Glencore and Antofagasta told City A.M. yesterday that they valued diversity across their business. Glencore said it was “working to identify the right female candidates,” while Antofagasta said it was “in the process of seeking a female candidate for board membership”.