The business case for increasing the number of women on corporate boards has been widely articulated and is clear. Since the launch of Lord Davies’s original report there has been a step change in the perception and commitment of gaining more diversity on FTSE 350 boards.
In January 2014 women accounted for 20.4% of corporate board members of FTSE 100 companies. This continued the positive trend and was up from 19% in 2013, 12.4% in 2010 and 9.4% in 2004. Although the pace of change has increased, and current trends suggest the target of 25% by 2015 set out by Lord Davies in his 2011 report will be achieved we can not be complacent and assume further progress will be made without further considered focus.
The FTSE 250 has also seen a positive increase in the number of women taking board positions. In January 2014 15.1% of corporate board positions were held by women compared to only 7.8% in 2010.
As at January 2014, 51 further board positions would be required to be taken by women to achieve the target of 25% for FTSE 100 companies, this is assuming that no current female board members step down during that time. For the FTSE 250 to achieve the target, a minimum of 197 board positions would have to be secured by women between now and 2015.
During the 12 months covering January 2013 to January 2014 there were 147 Non-Executive appointments in the FTSE 100, 42 (28.6%) taken by women. Of the FTSE 250, there were 244 Non-Executive appointments of which 74 (30.3%) taken by women. Although these statistics are encouraging, we cannot be complacent about reaching the 25% target.
The Voluntary Code for Executive Search Firms was created to ensure executive search firms were supporting FTSE 350 companies to create more diverse boards and covered the relevant search criteria and processes. The code has played its part in continuing to progress the appointment of women into board positions. Many contributors to this review have highlighted the positive impact it has had on discussing the role brief, identifying women who have the skills and competencies to take a board position, supporting them through the process and promoting best practice.
The review has highlighted the fact that some executive search firms take their commitment to the provisions of the code much more seriously than others. Some see their commitment as a differentiator in the market whilst some may see this as a profiling opportunity, or an annoyance.
Please read the full report here : Taking the Next Step March 2014