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Increase in female FTSE board appointments

WOMEN now account for 19% of FTSE 100 and 15% of FTSE 250 board positions, a progress report published by Cranfield School of Management has found.

Since Lord Davies’ report into women on boards was published in March 2011, the percentage of female appointments to FTSE boards has increased, with around a third of all FTSE appointments over the last six months going to women.

“We are definitely seeing a cultural shift taking place within UK business,” said professor Susan Vinnicombe, director of the Cranfield of International Centre for Women Leaders and co-author of the report.

The report also looks at the progress FTSE 350 companies are making in adopting the new recommendations in the corporate governance code 2012, which requires them to publish by the end of their current financial years how they plan to implement their boardroom diversity policy.

The Cranfield academics found that nearly all FTSE 100 companies acknowledge the need for greater boardroom diversity and two-thirds state a clear policy to achieve this. However, less than half opted to disclose measurable objectives to increase the number of women on their board and only a quarter address diversity in their board evaluation process.

“It is disappointing that a significant proportion of companies have not yet fully responded to the new code provisions on reporting gender diversity,” said Dr Ruth Sealy, co-author of the report.

In the latest Financial Director/Accountancy Age online Debate on boardroom diversity, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady made the proposal: ‘Mandatory targets are essential to place more women into senior roles’.

Opposing O’Grady was KPMG partner Melanie Richards. A partner in corporate finance , debt advisory services, and a UK board member, Richards is also a founder member of The 30% Club Steering Committee.

O’Grady said the corporate world be “a far better place” if their boards looked like the people they represent, while Richards argued that while a quota seemed appealing “as a quick fix”, there was no evidence to suggest that it create “meaningful and lasting” changed to corporate culture.

Click here to view the Debate

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