Is progress for women leaders a ‘false dawn’, asks Cranfield

12 Apr

In boardrooms across the UK, complacency is once again setting in. After an initial surge of female board appointments, the pace of change has considerably slowed.

The Female FTSE Board Report 2013 from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders is titled: ‘False dawn of progress for women leaders’? It shows that in the first six months after the last report was published in March 2012 that 44% of new FTSE 100 board appointments went to women. But that progress has not been sustained. In the last six months, just 26% of FTSE board appointments were female, and 29% of FTSE 250 board places went to women. Cranfield said this drop was “worrying”.

Overall, the figures look like this:

  • 169 women hold 194 female-held directorships in 93 FTSE 100 boardrooms.
  • This total equals 17.3%, higher than last year’s 15%.
  • There are now seven FTSE 100 companies with all-male boards.
  • Two-thirds of FTSE 100 companies have more than one woman on their board.
  • Burberry is the only company to have two female executive directors.
  • 73% of FTSE 250 companies have women on their boards, up from last year’s 54%

Commenting on Cranfield’s Female FTSE report, its co-author Professor Susan Vinnicombe OBE said: “At Cranfield we have stood steadfast against quotas on the basis that chairmen must understand the benefits of gender diversity and commit to achieving it.  Undoubtedly a number of chairmen do get it and see a gender balanced board as the ‘new normal’.  Unfortunately too many chairmen choose to ignore the issue in the false hope that it will go away.  Viviane Reding’s demanding legislation is on its way and it goes far beyond Lord Davies’ recommendations. It is becoming a matter of urgency for those companies that do not have a gender balanced board to let go of their board stereotypes and appoint more creatively.”

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