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Lord Davies has recently published his Final Report on improving the gender balance on British boards (see our previous post on this hot topic – All aboard!).

Progress

At 1 October 2015, there are no male-only boards in the FTSE 100 and women hold 26.1% of board positions in those companies, compared to 12.5% in February 2011. Within the FTSE 250, women hold 19.6% of board positions, with 15 male-only boards remaining.

Long term aim

However, there is still a lot of work to be done if the UK’s voluntary approach is going to cut it in Europe. European countries with quota regimes are likely to meet their target figures in the next few years and the UK will fall behind, both in Europe and internationally, if it does not progress beyond 26% female representation.

The steering committee has also identified the need to increase the number of women holding executive positions (currently 9.6% within the FTSE 100).

Recommendations

The Report makes the following recommendations:

  • Voluntary approach – is continued for a further five years.
  • Increased targets – minimum of 33% of women on FTSE 350 boards within five years, appointments of women to the roles of chair, senior independent director and executive director and all FTSE listed companies to take prompt action to improve balance on their boards.
  • Executives – FTSE 350 companies to extend work on gender balance at board level to executive committees and the most senior leadership positions.
  • Independent steering body – made up of businesses and subject matter experts to continue to support efforts, sustain progress and report findings.
  • Maintaining momentum – the steering body is to review and publish more detailed recommendations in addition to the above at the beginning of 2016.

Top ten goals:

The Report also identified the following longer-term goals:

  • No all-male boards in the FTSE 350.
  • Those companies in the FTSE 350 currently below 25% representation to take action now.
  • More consistent and active interest from investors.
  • Appointing more women to executive director, chair and senior independent director roles.
  • Improving the turnover rate of FTSE 350 directors having served 9 years or more.
  • FTSE 250 to improve appointment rate to 1 in 3 board positions going to women.
  • Robust and meaningful disclosures from all listed companies on gender balance actions.
  • FTSE CEO’s adopting best practice within their organisations.
  • Ripple effect from top table impacting women’s representation in senior-most leadership teams.
  • Women speaking out and taking action to support other women coming behind them.

Checklist

If your company is falling behind its peers when it comes to gender balance on the board, the Report includes a useful checklist on how to improve the position:

  • Research and analyse the current situation.
  • Monitor, feedback and set targets for improvement.
  • Put in measures to tackle unconscious bias.
  • Evaluate and put in measures to improve recruitment and management processes.
  • Put in place management initiatives to mentor and encourage women.

Continued European pressure

In response to the publication of Lord Davies’ Report , Laura Carstensen, EHRC Commissioner, made the observation that women are predominantly recruited to non-executive director roles. She commented: “That’s why the Commission is currently carrying out a major inquiry into recruitment practices in the FTSE 350. This inquiry will shine a light for the first time on some of the stark challenges and questionable recruitment practices which still remain.”

This post was edited by Sophie Denton. For more information, email blogs@gateleyplc.com.


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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.