Gender inequality in the work place has been at the heart of many debates for decades. Many women have called for the rights to equal opportunity and pay but, whilst issues some were tackled, gender equality still has not been achieved in the boardroom.
Fortunately then, in an event co-hosted by Lord Davies of Abersoch, the progress of Davies’ quota to have more women representing company boards within the FTSE 350 companies was highlighted. The event was organised to gather non-executive women and showcase their talent pool to FTSE chairs.
Lord Davies set a target to all FTSE 350 companies to aim for at least 25% minimum female representation on company boards by 2015. Four years on, FTSE 350 boards are actively trying to pursue female representation. Women representation across the FTSE 100 boards increased from 20.7% to 22.8% according to results published in March 2014. FTSE 250 boards showed a rise in female representation from 15.6% to 17.4% and the results found in March showed that there are no longer any all-male boards within the FTSE 100.
“In 2011, British business said they could fix this problem on their own and I am delighted we are now seeing evidence of this, with more women being picked to serve on the boards of Britain’s biggest companies,” said Davies. “However the job is not yet done. Strengthening the executive talent pipeline remains the next and longer term challenge,” he added.
The event showcased the top 10 most improved boards within the FTSE 100 from 2010 till October 2014. Old Mutual came in first place with a 0% female board in 2010 to a 38.5% female representation in 2014. Aggreko came in a close second who also had no female representation and in 2014 showed a 30% representation of women on the company board. Other contenders included Glaxosmithkline, Wolseley, Land Securities Group, Associated British Foods, Capita, Petrofac, Weir Group and HSBC. Six companies in the list had risen from a 0% representation to a minimum of 22.2%.
“Seeing the enormous progress made by these ten top FTSE 100 companies demonstrates that the UK’s voluntary, business-led approach is working. Our target of 25% women on boards by 2015 is in sight,” said Vince Cable, business secretary. ““I congratulate those FTSE Chairs and those that have taken action to promote talented women. British businesses must keep up the momentum and alarm bells should be ringing in the ears of those FTSE Chairs who are not yet doing their bit to improve gender diversity,” he added. Cable also warned that EU mandatory targets are a threat if the 25% quota is not met.
With the next update of Women on Boards statistics to be made public in March 2015, some FTSE 100 companies still have a way to go. For those companies who have met and exceeded the target, congratulations are in order for promoting talented women and diminishing the gender gap.