Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a review into a code of conduct for executive recruiters set up to ensure more women are appointed to large UK company boards.
Charlotte Sweeney has been appointed to lead the probe into the voluntary code, which was established in July 2011 on the recommendation of Lord Davies of Abersoch, following the publication of his review into women on boards in the same year.
The former head of diversity and inclusion for Nomura International will test the strength of the code and determine whether women are accounting for 30 per cent of candidate long-lists submitted to company chairs by executive search firms.
The probe comes after concerns emerged that progress towards the aim to get women making up 25 per cent of FTSE-100 boards by 2015 has slowed.
Sweeney said having women represented in top positions “is important for the growth of our economy”. She added: “The voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms plays an important part of the recruitment process for board appointments.”
Richard Fletcher, of recruitment firm Fletcher Jones, said his firm “strongly supports” the principles of the code and that “good progress is being made” but added that shortlist requirements represented “significant practical challenges” to the industry. He said: “The pipeline of female candidates in some sectors and disciplines is currently smaller than the male candidate pool, and therefore a requirement for minimum gender representation on longlists and shortlists may at times present significant practical challenges.”
Cable said: “The argument for greater female representation in the top positions of our biggest companies is clear.”