DEPARTMENT for Business, Innovation and Skills insisted yesterday that its review into women on company boards will only push for a mandatory quota system as a last resort.
Lord Davies’ review into boardroom diversity could instead recommend an internship scheme to encourage a wider range of people to take up directorships, a spokesperson said yesterday.
Mervyn Davies, the former chief executive of Standard Chartered and trade minister under Labour, is consulting with City players over plans to demystify the boardroom and encourage more women to take top roles.
A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, which is overseeing the review, said Lord Davies was not currently planning to impose a quota of women on boardrooms and would prefer a voluntary system to encourage more women into executive roles.
“It’s difficult to say what measures will be involved, and there are lots of possibilities that are being discussed. However, quotas are a last resort,” the spokesperson said.
Davies’ team is consulting with head-hunters, FTSE-listed companies and their board members to explore ways to get a broader mix of people into the top jobs.
The review has received more than 2,600 responses to its call for evidence, which closed on 2 December. It is expected to report its recommendations in February.
Lord Davies of Abersoch said at the launch of the review in August: “While it is essential that the boards of UK companies are meritocratic, the fact that there are only 131 female directors in FTSE 100 companies means that we cannot be using all the skills and talents that make our workforce so competitive.”
Recent research by Cranfield School of Management showed that 12.5 per cent of directors in the FTSE 100 are women.
There are 18 female executive directors – which is only 5.5 per cent of the total.
More than one in five FTSE 100 companies have all-male boards, the research showed.