Female board appointments slowing down

Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts, EasyJet’s Carolyn McCall and Imperial’s Alison Cooper
Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts, EasyJet’s Carolyn McCall and Imperial’s Alison Cooper

MOVES to get more women appointed to City boardrooms are in danger of stalling after the pace of female FTSE board appointments fell in the last six months, a major report warns today.

Leaders are aiming to get 25 per cent of FTSE 100 board places allocated to female managers by 2015 yet figures out today show strong early momentum towards the target in the first part of last year has slowed.

Newly vacant FTSE 100 board appointments won by female candidates have fallen to 26 per cent over the past six months, down from 44 per cent between March and September 2012.

New female appointments on the FTSE 250 have also dropped from 36 per cent to 29 per cent, according to the study from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders.

Women on FTSE 100 Executive Committees has dropped from 18.1% in 2009 to 15.3% today

Figures warn the appointment rate needs to stay steady at 33 per cent if the 2015 25 per cent target, as proposed by Lord Davies, is to be recognised.

Dr Ruth Sealy, who co-authored the report, said: “Lord Davies’ target for FTSE 100 companies is still in sight but only if the rate of new appointments going to women regains momentum promptly.”

A number of top FTSE companies, including Burberry, Diageo, Capita, GlaxoSmithKline and Standard Life, are already above target with a third of their boardroom roles taken by women.

Debate over whether legislation is needed to enforce quotes is hotly contested but business leaders say firms should move to head off enforced appointments.

“These figures show if we are to remove blockages in the pipeline of female talent development, business leaders must roll up their sleeves and redouble their efforts to improve recruitment, mentoring and succession planning,” CBI president Sir Roger Carr said. “Tokenistic EU quotas will do nothing to address the root causes of this issue.” The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants said the figures were a “worrying trend” but said the solution was not “legislation and quotas”.

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