Issue of women on boards still not addressed

Labour Party

The annual Davies report published in the last week reveals that female representation on company boards of the FTSE 100 has reached 23.5%, a figure which has almost doubled in the last four years.

In 2011 an appalling low 12.5% of women had board positions on the FTSE 100. Since then some work has been done to address this, the issue has been raised and debate ensued. However, the Tory-Lib Dem coalition was, unsurprisingly, reluctant to entertain the idea that legislation would help to redress the balance and certainly it would do so more quickly.

When Lord Davies was asked to examine the issue he recommended that the FTSE 100 should aim to have a minimum of 25% women on its boards by 2015. We are now in 2015 and this figure has not been achieved. A further 17 women need to be added to top positions before this figure is met.

However, perhaps the most interesting observation I can make is that on closer inspection of the 23.5% figure reveals that just 8.6% of executive directors are women which equates to just 24 women opposed to 255 men. The figures also reveal that there are 239 women non-executive directors and 601 men.

Although there aren’t any all-male boards in the FTSE 100, the Cranfield School of Management reveal that in the FTSE 250 there are still 23 all male boards.

Lord Davies has called the latest figure: “A remarkable rate of change.” On the face of it it is, but in reality the majority of women are non-exec directors, so really female representation at company level hasn’t changed significantly.

The only way to ensure women are properly represented at a senior level is to introduce mandatory quotas for top companies. There are very many credible and capable women in business but they are overlooked just because of their gender and this needs to be properly addressed.