Women account for a fifth of FTSE 100 board members, a report from Cranfield University finds, three years after former trade minister Lord Davies challenged business to pursue gender equality.
The figures from Cranfield’s School of Management show that, since the unviersity began reporting on the gender make-up of FTSE companies in 1999, the percentage of women on boards has tripled.
Companies have got the message that better balanced boards bring real business benefits. Lord Davis
In 2011, when the percentage of women on the boards of FTSE 100 firms was 12.5 per cent, Lord Davies set businesses the challenge of raising the figure to 25 per cent by 2015.
The peer has welcomed the latest figures, saying: Lord Davies said: “The rate of change that we have seen at the heart of our biggest companies over the last three years has been impressive.
“The voluntary approach is working and companies have got the message that better balanced boards bring real business benefits. We are finally seeing a culture change taking place at the heart of British business.
“However, the eyes of the world are on us as we enter the home straight. They are judging us as to whether the voluntary approach, rather than regulation, will work – we need to now prove we can do this on our own.”
More needs to done to improve the number of women in executive positions. Vince Cable, business secretary
Just two businesses in the FTSE 100 have male-only boards, compared to one-in-five in 2011. The two companies with male-only boards are copper mining company Antofagasta and natural resources group Glencore Xstrata.
Other companies with low numbers of women on their boards include gold and silver mining business Fresnillo, fund management firm Schroders, and Coca Cola (see graphic, above).
In the FTSE 250, a total of 50 companies still do not have any women on their boards.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “These latest figures show that businesses are getting the right mix of talent around their boardroom table and understand the importance of this.
It makes clear economic sense for women to be able to rise to the top. Maria Miller, Minister for Women and Equalities
“Ninety-eight of the FTSE 100 boards are now made up of at least one woman and we need fewer than 50 new women appointments to FTSE 100 boards to reach our target of 25 per cent of women on all FTSE 100 boards in the next year.
“This is a huge improvement from where we started just three years ago.
“More needs to done to improve the number of women in executive positions. These will be the CEOs of tomorrow and businesses still aren’t tapping into the vast talent pool available to them.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller said: “It makes clear economic sense for women to be able to rise to the top. Good progress is being made in Britain through a cultural shift that promotes on merit, not through the mandatory quotas advocated by others.
“The workplace was designed by men for men. Women don’t need special treatment they just need a modernised workplace that gives them a level playing field.”