A House of Lords select committee yesterday heard campaigners for female representation in boardrooms reject calls for fixed quotas of female directors.
Lords were urged to fight against European legislation on the issue in favour of self-regulation at a meeting of an EU sub-committee.
“We are reaching a tipping point where chairmen who have the wrong attitude regarding diversity on boards will be found out,” said Lord Davies of Abersoch, who wrote a 2011 report on the topic for the government.
“It’s not just about equality, it’s about business performance. Every type of research shows that if you have a diverse team with different approaches and backgrounds [it helps performance].”
However he insisted that “women would much rather get there through merit” than through reserving boardroom places for women.
Jonathan Rees, director general of the government equalities office, agreed: “A quota with a single figure would cause all sorts of difficulties. Eighty-nine per cent of women are against quotas.
“In order to hit 25 per cent women on FTSE 100 boards, you’re only talking about 99 more women. There are clearly more than 99 really good women who could come onto boards.”