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Momentum: Lord Davies' Targets Exceeded ? #WOB

Posted on March 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Listen up. The weather is still doing a good job of emulating spring in the UK and here's some more good cheer.

There are now 141 women holding 163 seats on FTSE 100 plc boards, which means the number of female-held directorships is 15.6%, according to the 2012 Female FTSE report from the Cranfield School of Management. It has been launched to mark the one year anniversary of the review by Lord Davies of Absersoch on the under-representation of women in the UK's boardrooms.

Lord Davies set a minimum target of 25% female representation on the boards of FTSE 100 companies by 2015. Well, guess what ? In the year to January 2012, 47 new appointments - that's 25% - out of 190 were women. If this pace of change gathers that MOMENTUM I mentioned yesterday, we could exceed the targets set in the report and have 26.7% of directors be women by 2015 and 36.9% by 2020.

And here is the best bit. Of the 47 new female appointments, 29 of the women - or 62% - have had no prior FTSE board experience. (sorry - in bold for the very lazy)

The only concern I have - and I am far from alone on this - is that the RAH RAH WOMEN ON BOARDS bandwagon has emphasised women on boards to the exclusion of focusing on the importance of women everywhere else - moving up the senior echelons of the plc, on the executive committee, and on the boards of companies not so much in the spotlight of public opinion.  

As Lord Davies says : "We've got to keep up the pressure on business - particularly on FTSE 250 companies. And at the same time CEOs must try and improve the gender balance of their executive committees, because this isn't just about the equality, it's about performance. And the simple fact is that the more diverse your team, the better it performs."

I do love name-dropping in this context so........the plc at the top of this year's ranking is Diageo, where four women make up 44.4% of its board. Burberry has three women out of eight directors, and Pearson (owner of the Financial Times) is doing well too. 

But while female non-executive directors - 143 women, or 22.4% of the total is great, I'm willing to bet these are by and large roles taken on later in life. They are. after all, part-time. So we still have the huge challenge of increasing the number of women in executive positions - wait for it, just 20 among the FTSE 100, or 6.6%.

The Cranfield report does take a good look at the 'pipeline' of women and it finds that many plcs don't record data on the women they employ at junior, middle and senior levels. Oops, that doesn't sound very clever - but could also be easily rectified.

Here is something everyone should know, so please pass it on. The report includes a list of '100 Women to Watch' - those who are currently on the executive committees of FTSE 350 companies or in "significant roles at other major institutions" who are ready for a board position and should be considered......apparently 10 of the women identified in the Cranfield list in 2010 have now gained a FTSE 350 board position. Progress, GB, progress.


A copy of the report is now available online @ http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/som or from Alison Southgate, Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders, T: 01234 751122 Ext 3801, or E: a.southgate@cranfield.ac.uk



Categories: Women, Measurement, Appointments