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Percentage of women on boards not the only measure of diversity

04 February 2015

Percentage of women on boards not sole measure of diversity  - Read more

The percentage of women on boards is not the only measure of diversity, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) points out, as the First Women Summit reveals the 10 most improved boards for gender diversity.

As part of the First Women Summit, co-hosted by Women on Boards and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Vince Cable revealed the top 10 “most improved” FTSE companies. These companies, in order of higher percentage increase of women on their boards, include Old Mutual; Aggreko; Glaxosmithkline; Wolseley; Land Securities Group; Associated British Foods; Capita; Petrofac; Weir Group; and HSBC.

The greatest increase was shown by Old Mutual, which went from being a board with no women whatsoever in 2010 to having 38.5% female representation, according to the October 2014 update of the Davies report. Second was Aggreko, which had no women in 2010 and now has 30% female representation, as found in October 2014.

HSBC in tenth place, had a board with 16.7% of women in 2010, which has risen to 37.5%, as found in October 2014 – an increase of 20.8%.
Commenting on these figures, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: ‘Our target of 25% women on boards by 2015 is in sight. However, the threat of EU mandatory targets remains a reality if we do not meet it.

‘Businesses must not take their foot off the pedal during the final stretch - if we are to avoid action from Brussels we must continue to demonstrate that our voluntary approach is the right one and is working.’

Peter Swabey, Policy & Research Director at ICSA commented that ‘this is excellent news, and it is great to see the significant steps being taken by companies to improve the gender diversity of their boards.  As Dr Cable says, we must all work to ensure that this progress is maintained but, at the same time, we should remember that gender is not the only form of diversity and that diversity in all its forms is only one of many measures by which the improvement of boards can be judged.’

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