Women should sit on third of all FTSE boards by 2020, says Davies report

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Women_at_workAll FTSE 350 boards should have 33 percent female representation by 2020, a five year investigation of gender equality has concluded. The recommendations were made by Lord Davies in his final report on Women on Boards which began looking into the obstacles preventing many women from reaching senior positions back in February 2011. Earlier this year the UK’s FTSE 100 reached a milestone of 25 percent of board positions being filled by women – the target set by Lord Davies in 2011. Although there are more women on FTSE 350 boards than ever before, with representation of women more than doubling since 2011 – the latest report proposes a series of recommendations including the voluntary target of 33 percent representation of women on FSTE 350 boards, and the creation of an independent steering body to help create momentum to ensure a voluntary business-led approach is continued for a further five year period.

The report makes recommendations in 5 key areas:

  1. Voluntary approach: The national call for action and voluntary, business-led approach is continued for a further 5-year period
  1. Increased target, more chairs and action from all listed companies by increasing the voluntary target for women’s representation in boardrooms of FTSE 350 companies, to a minimum of 33 percent to be achieved in the next 5 years. All stakeholders to work together to ensure increasing numbers of women are appointed to the roles of Chair, Senior Independent Director and into Executive Director positions on boards of FTSE 350 companies. All FTSE listed companies now assess the gender balance on their boards and take prompt action to address any shortfall.
  1. Focus on the executive layer with FTSE 350 companies to extend the best practice seen at board level to improve gender balance and fundamentally improve the representation of women on the Executive Committee and senior-most leadership positions.
  1. Independent steering body, made up of business and subject matter experts with a newly appointed Chair and members, is reconvened to support business in their efforts, act as a catalyst for sustained progress, monitor and report periodically upon progress.
  1. Maintaining momentum:  The newly convened steering body will review the recommendations 1 to 4 above and in consultation with key stakeholders, publish more detailed comments as appropriate, at the beginning of 2016.

Lord Davies said:  “Looking back to 2011, I could not have predicted British business would have embraced the Women on Boards agenda as they have, or indeed that the 25 percent target would have been achieved 6 months ahead of schedule.

“This is truly amazing progress. I cannot thank the many, many businessmen and businesswomen enough for their significant and collective contribution. It has been a privilege to lead this campaign.”

Brenda Trenowden, Global Chair of the 30% Club which campaigns on the issue, said: “We welcome Lord Davies recommendation to increase female representation on boards to 33 percent – a figure which is closely aligned to our target of a minimum sustainable figure of 30 percent.

“There is more work to do to improve female representation in the workplace, however, and not just in the UK, but worldwide. The 30% Club’s initial focus on FTSE 100 boards like the Davies Review was a starting point for trying to change the status quo. As we look beyond 2015, we will continue to focus on our pipeline initiatives which nurture more female talent for the top jobs of the future, as well as expanding our global reach.”