26 March 2014
The ‘Female FTSE Board’ report, published by Cranfield, is the official UK census for women on boards. The findings of the report were announced this morning at an event hosted by Barclays. The speakers at the event included Rt Hon Vince Cable (Secretary of State for Business), Rt Hon Maria Miller (Secretary of State for Culture, Minister for Women and Equalities), Lord Mervyn Davies (Women on Boards Steering Group) and Antony Jenkins (Group CEO Barlcays).
In 2010 the government commissioned Lord Davies of Abersoch to develop a strategy to increase the number of women on the boards of listed companies. The 2011 Davies Review on Women on Boards required that FTSE 100 companies have 25% women directors by 2015. The report shows that women now account for 20.7% of FTSE 100 board positions, an increase from 12.5% in 2011.
There are now just two FTSE 100 companies with all male boards, a considerable turnaround from 2011 when 1 in 5 boards were all male. This year’s Female FTSE Board report forecasts that if the rate of female appointments to FTSE 100 boards continues as it has done over the last six months, Lord Davies’ target of 25% women on boards by the end of 2015 is achievable.
However, this year’s report also found that women are still not being appointed for executive positions, despite there being a wealth of suitable candidates. There are only 6.9% executive directorships held by women on FTSE 100 boards. The report authors recommend a number of strategies for organisations to adopt in order to not only reach the 25% target but to achieve the deep cultural change that is necessary to manage the whole female talent pipeline. This year’s report takes a closer look at the processes and practices that companies use to identify, develop and manage their talent, and how they ensure that women are treated on an equal footing with men.
Dr Elena Doldor, Lecturer at Queen Mary University (Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity) and Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management (International Centre for Women Leaders), commented: “Effective talent management will only happen if leaders and managers are held accountable for supporting women’s careers by introducing performance targets related to developing female talent and linking them to remuneration. Organisations should also ensure that women have not only mentors, but also sponsors, who advocate for them and pave the way to career-enhancing opportunities. We want all FTSE companies to ask themselves are talented women within their organisation able to get to the top and around the boardroom table? If not, they must review their talent management processes to enable this.” The report includes a practical checklist of steps organisations can take to make sure they manage their female talent in a sustainable way.
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. Supporting women to fulfil their full potential should be a core business issue; for the long term sustainability of our economy.”
Lord Davies commented: “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 take 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.”
The report, published by Cranfield School of Management, is co-authored by Professor Susan Vinnicombe OBE, Dr Elena Doldor, and Caroline Turner.