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Next step is building the pipeline

27 March 2014

Encouraging progress is being made according to Lord Davies’ third annual report on Women on Boards, however there is much improvement needed in building the pipeline.

Lord Davies’ update reports that, as at 3 March 2014, women account for 20.7% of board positions in the FTSE 100, which is up from 17.3% in April 2013 and 12.5% in 2011. In a further breakdown, women account for 25.5% of all non-executive directorships but only account for 6.9% of all executive directors. There are still two all-male boards – Glencore Xstrata and Antofagasta.

In the FTSE 250, women account for 15.6% of overall board directorships, up from 13.2% in 2013; additionally, women account for 19.6% of non-executive directorships and 5.3% of executive directorships. In this group of companies, there are still 48 all-male boards operating.

Speaking to Governance + Compliance, ICSA Policy Director Peter Swabey commented that ‘although the pace of women being appointed to boards is increasing, there is still a significant difference between the female share of executive directorships compared with non-executive directorships. For me, this is the real issue – the need to strengthen the pipeline of women ready to move into executive directorships – and this is not readily susceptible to a number of solutions that have been proposed, such as increasing the number of seats on boards.’

Rowena Ironside, Chair of Women on Boards, acknowledged, when speaking to Governance + Compliance, the positive signs of progress in the report as ‘only two FTSE 100 companies remain with all-male boards and 39% of FTSE 100 boards now include three or more women’, however she said that focus is shifting ‘to the fundamental challenge of building the talent pipeline of female executives who will be tomorrow’s FTSE directors.

‘Establishing a broader understanding of the role that organisational culture and gender stereotypes play in limiting female careers is critically important to this – and today’s report acknowledges these important and complex issues as the next frontier.’

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