FTSE 100 board appointments take Lord Davies’ targets to heart

The Professional Boards Forum has launched “BoardWatch” to track progress against the targets set down in Lord Davies’ report into the number of women on FTSE 100 boards. Drawing on data provided by BoardEx, a business networking service, BoardWatch will report monthly figures.

In the first of these reports, 31 per cent of new directors appointed to the boards of the UK’s largest 100 listed companies since March 1 are women. This has inched up the total percentage of women directors to 13.4 per cent (from 12.5 per cent at end-2010) and reduced the number of “stag” or all-male boards to 14 from 21.

In order for FTSE boards to meet Lord Davies’ recommendation that by 2015 25 per cent of directors should be women, he advised that one-third of all new appointments should be women. While the 31 per cent may fall marginally short, the figures show that UK boards are so far taking the targets seriously, and this is increasing the number of female appointments.

The situation in the FTSE 250 is not quite as impressive. Here 19 per cent of all new board appointments went to women pushing the overall percentage of women directors up to 8.4 per cent from 7.8 per cent (at end-2010). There remain 52 per cent of FTSE 250 companies with no woman on the board, unchanged since 2010.

Monthly reporting serves to ensure the question of diversity on boards remains in the public eye and adds urgency to what has historically been  painfully slow progress. The question remains whether Lord Davies should have extended his recommendation to cover the FTSE 250 and if he had, whether higher numbers of women would have found their way onto those boards.

Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30% Club, which aspires to increase female board participation to 30 per cent, said:

“Today’s figure, charting the progress of women into the boardroom, clearly show a significant rise since the commissioning of the Davies Report. All-male boards have also reduced by a third. This is extremely encouraging and we look forward to witnessing continued progression towards more diverse boards.”

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