Myners: more women will get on boards

Elizabeth Fournier
EX-CITY Minister Lord Myners expects women to make up the majority of board members in at least five FTSE100 companies by 2021, without quotas necessary to bring about the change.

Speaking at tonight’s Business Woman of the Year awards, Lord Myners will say that the failure by the private sector to recognise and mobilise female talent is the largest missed opportunity of recent history, with women’s “different, fruitful and, at times, distinctly superior style to decision making and leadership” offering the best opportunity for future growth and economic prosperity.

But he will stop short of recommending compulsory measures to encourage gender diversity, insisting that board appointments should be based on merit, with companies responsible for removing internal barriers to appointing female leaders.

Myners’ views contradict those expressed in last month’s government-commissioned report from Lord Davies, which said quotas to encourage female board members would have to be introduced if voluntary measures fail.

According to a 2010 study by Cranfield University, women make up only 12.5 per cent of FTSE100 board members, just a 0.3 per cent rise from the previous year.

Burberry is currently the FTSE100 company with the greatest number of women on its board, but still falls short of Myners’ predictions with just three out of eight female directors. Diageo is the only company with four women on its board, including recently apponted finance chief Deirdre Mahlan.

Almost a fifth of the current FTSE100 – 18 companies – have no female directors at all.

Lord Davies’ report called for the UK’s largest public companies to make sure female directors make up at least 25 per cent of their board members by 2015.