More women on boards could boost economy by billions

5 Nov

Having more women on the board and making better use of women’s skills in the workplace could boost the UK economy by £15bn to £23bn, according to minister for equalities Lynne Featherstone.

Speaking at an event to promote a six-month review of Lord Davies’ Women on Boards report, the minister said that progress was being made, but much more could be done by businesses to achieve diversity targets. She said: “The business case for increasing the number of women on boards is clear. It’s about improving performance and having a board that reflects and understands its customers. Better use of women’s skills could be worth billions of pounds to our economy each year. Progress is being made, but there is still a long way to go. Increasing women’s representation at senior levels will increase diversity and help close the gender pay gap.”

The Women on Boards Six-Month Monitoring Report from Cranfield University School of Management found that:

* Women make up 14.2% of FTSE 100 directors – up from 12.5% in 2010.
* Women make up 8.8% of FTSE 250 directors – up from 7.8% in 2010.
* 23% of all board appointments since publication have been female.
* There are 13 all male boards within the FTSE 100 – down from 21 in 2010.
* 47.6% of FTSE 250 companies have all male boards – down from 52.4% in 2010.

Co-author of the report, Professor Susan Vinnicombe OBE, director of the International Centre for Women Leaders, said recruiters and headhunters should cast the net wider when searching for female directors, rather than relying on the “straitjacket” of looking for women with a financial and banking background.

Businesses need to have a talent pipeline of women who can step up to senior roles, and diversity has be led from the top. This was reinforced by Steven Holliday, chief executive of National Grid, who was a panellist at the event. He said: “Board diversity may be the ‘shop window’ but the real prize for business is to ensure increased diversity throughout the leadership of a company.”

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