Press release

Cable – Use 2014 to get more women on boards

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

FTSE350 companies challenged by Vince Cable and Lord Davies to seize the opportunity and increase the number of women in their boardrooms.

FTSE350 companies have been challenged by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Lord Davies to seize the opportunity and increase the number of women in their boardrooms.

The pair have jointly written to the Chairs of the FTSE350 stating, that with the deadline for Lord Davies’ 25% target for FTSE100 companies ever nearing, they should use 3 targeted initiatives this year to help press ahead with continued change.

In 2011, the FTSE100 were set the ambition by Lord Davies and his Steering Group for women to account for 25% of FTSE100 boards by 2015. The latest figures for the FTSE100 show that this now stands at 20.4%, up from 12.5% in February 2011.The FTSE250 have also been encouraged to increase female representation and aim for 25% of women on boards.

It is estimated only a further 60 new female board appointments will need to be made to reach the target for the FTSE100.

Vince Cable and Lord Davies have asked FTSE350 Chairs to:

  • aim to appoint 1 additional female director in the year ahead
  • consider giving 2 female candidates from senior management the opportunity to serve as a non-executive director at another company
  • state clear targets for the number of women at senior management and board level and what steps they are taking to achieve those targets

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

In the past few years we’ve made great progress in improving boardroom diversity and the momentum has turned. But the time for talking and listening is over - we now need to start seeing businesses acting on their words.

We’re now on the home stretch and countries across the world are looking at the voluntary approach we’ve taken. We need to show them that we can get over the finish line.

In addition, Denise Wilson has been appointed by Vince Cable to join the government team working with business to help achieve the 25% target. Denise is a member of the Women on Boards Steering Group and a non-executive director with 30 years corporate experience in the oil and gas and financial services sectors.

Denise Wilson said:

I have been involved in Women on Boards from the outset and we have made excellent progress. I am excited about helping to make even more and believe we will meet our targets, providing we keep our focus.

Notable other developments since the 6-monthly update in October 2013 on the issue include:

  • two new FTSE100 female Chief Executives – Liv Garfield at Severn Trent and Moya Greene at Royal Mail Group. The current number stands at 4
  • Fiona Woolf appointed as only the second ever female Lord Mayor of the City of London
  • Lloyd’s of London appointing their first female Chief Executive – Inga Beale
  • only 3 all-male boards left in the FTSE100 – this stood at 21 in February 2011. The 3 are London Stock Exchange, Glencore Xstrata and Antofagasta
  • Old Mutual appointing 2 female directors, with 4 out of the 12 director positions held by women
  • Vince Cable and Business Minister Jo Swinson holding a number of sector roundtables with representatives of the FTSE350 over the past 6 months
  • finally, an event for Chairs of the FTSE350 to network with potential non-executive director candidates will be held in April 2014

Lord Davies will present his annual Women on Boards update report in March 2014, which will include the latest FTSE350 figures. The event will be hosted by Barclays PLC.

Notes to editors:

  1. The latest figures can be found here at http://www.boardsforum.co.uk/boardwatch.html

  2. The original Lord Davies Women on Boards report from 2011 can be found at ‘Women on boards February 2011’

  3. The latest annual report from April 2013 can be found at ‘Women on boards 2013: Two years on’

  4. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.