Moves slow on getting women in to boardrooms

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PROGRESS on appointing more women to company boards has stalled, suggesting that firms have become complacent in tackling the issue, according to a new report.

The annual Cranfield Female FTSE board study showed that in the six months from last March, the pace of change was “extremely encouraging”, with 44 per cent of new appointments to boards of FTSE 100 firms going to women, and 36 per cent in FTSE 250 companies.

But the levels dropped to 26 per cent and 29 per cent in the past six months. A government-commissioned review led by Lord Davies of Abersoch recommended having 25 per cent of women on boards by 2015.

The Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders said there was a 33 per cent gap ­between the current rate and the recommended level.

There are 194 female-held directorships, involving 169 women, in 93 of the FTSE 100 boardrooms – equivalent to 
17.3 per cent of the total, against 15 per cent a year ago, the report said, leaving seven firms with all-male boards.

Dr Ruth Sealy from Cranfield School of Management, who co-authored the report, said: “Lord Davies’s target for FTSE 100 companies is still in sight but only if the rate of new appointments going to women regains ­momentum promptly.

“It is disappointing to see that women from outside the ­‘corporate mainstream’, including entrepreneurs, academics and civil servants, are still not being considered for FTSE board positions.”

The analysis also revealed a “worrying drop” in the number of women on executive committees, down from 18 per cent in 2009 to 15 per cent.

Sir Roger Carr, president of industry body the CBI, said: “These figures show if we are to remove blockages in the pipeline of ­female talent development, business leaders must roll up their sleeves and redouble their efforts to improve recruitment.”