Simon Murray’s curriculum vitae – complete with a stint in the Foreign Legion, a love of helicopter flying and a penchant for endurance running – suggests he is an old-fashioned man’s man. But man’s men have learnt to keep to themselves any unreconstructed views on women in business. Instead, the newly appointed chairman of Glencore ran straight into a wall of criticism after telling the UK’s Sunday Telegraph that women are “not so ambitious in business as men because they’ve better things to do. Quite often they like bringing up their children…”
I have spent the past four weeks interviewing many of the world’s most highly rated women chief executives for the FT’s forthcoming ranking of Top 50 Women in World Business (to be announced in a separate magazine published with the FT on November 17).
Last week, the FT reported on research by Spencer Stuart, an executive search company, into the diversity of S&P 500 company boards.
According to the research, over the last five years the top 500 US companies have not significantly increased the representation of women on their executive boards, with one in five companies continuing to be all-male bastions.
Last week I interviewed Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo – the most consistently highly ranked woman chief executive on the planet. We talked about the impact of her paternal grandfather: his expectation that his grandchildren would achieve exceptional results, and the imperative of working as hard as necessary to do an outstanding job.