Slump harms FTSE's women

THE number of women in the UK&rsquo;s top boardrooms has been hit by the recession, according to a new report released yesterday.<br /><br />The Female FTSE Index and Report, published by Cranfield University School of Management, said there had been a &ldquo;discouraging decline&rdquo; in the number of FTSE 100 companies with female executive directors over the course of 2009, falling from 16 to 15.<br /><br />The number of companies on the index with multiple women board directors has also fallen from 39 to 37 over the year.<br />Sarah Churchman, director of diversity at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the report was a &ldquo;wake-up call&rdquo; for British businesses.<br /><br />Churchman said: &ldquo;The worst case scenario is that the by-product of the recession is to stall or reverse gender diversity progress and investment across business, and not just in listed firms &ndash; thus short changing the UK economy&rsquo;s recovery by removing or alienating a generation of female talent.&rdquo;<br /><br />Investment firm Alliance Trust and fashion group Burberry have the highest proportion of women directors in the FTSE 100. <br /><br />Alliance Trust has Katherine Garrett-Cox as chief executive and Lesley Knox as chairman, while Burberry&rsquo;s chief executive is Angela Ahrendts and its finance director Stacey Cartwright. Both firms also have one female non-executive director.<br /><br />The report comes just days after the appointment of Alison Cooper as chief executive of Imperial Tobacco, making her the youngest out of the five women running FTSE 100 companies. <br /><br />The other two women heads of the UK&rsquo;s top companies are Cynthia Carroll at miner Anglo American and Dame Marjorie Scardino, of publisher Pearson.<br />