13 Mar 2012

Davies review: all-male FTSE 100 boards halve

The number of all-male boards have halved in the last year, according to the first annual progress update from Lord Davies

Lord Davies’ report Women on Boards was published last February, recommending a 25% female representation on boards by 2015. Since then, the number of all-male boards in the FTSE 100 has reduced from 21 to 11.  

  • 17 companies in the FTSE 100 have already reached the 25% target and a further 17 are currently between 20% and 25%.
  • 21 FTSE 250 companies have reached the 25% target and a further 28 companies are currently between 20% and 25%.
  • 47 female appointments have been made since publication of last February's report
  • Women now account for 15.6% of directorships in the top hundred companies, up from 12.5%, and 27% of all board appointments have been taken by women in the last year.
  • In the FTSE, for the first time all-male boards are in the minority at 112 companies, or 44.8%, down from 52.4%.

Lord Davies said: “I believe that we are finally seeing a culture change taking place right at the very heart of British business in relation to how women are seen within the workforce. Some excellent work has taken place and I want to take this opportunity to thank the many Chairmen, Chief Executive Officers, business organisations, training providers, networks, journalists and individual business men and women whose commitment to this issue remains unstinting. However, I must also emphasise that efforts need to be ramped up and the speed of change accelerated if we’re to avoid Government interference.”

Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable said: “Increasing female board representation is a win-win proposition for business. Well-balanced boards with broader experience introduce fresh perspectives and new ideas, which help improve performance and boost productivity.

“This report provides real evidence that business is taking the issue of board diversity seriously and is working to bring about the necessary changes. It demonstrates why we don't think quotas are necessary at the moment as the UK is making the voluntary approach work.”

Between 2008 and 2010, the number of women directors had effectively plateaued, rising at less than a single percentage point year-on-year. However, in the 12 months since Lord Davies’ report was published, the largest-ever annual increase in the percentage of women on boards has been recorded.

Cranfield School of Management’s Female FTSE report, also published today, says that if the current pace is maintained by 2015 some 26.7% of board members will be female in the FTSE 100.

Amanda Mackenzie, chief marketing and communications officer at Aviva and a member of Lord Davies’ review panel, said: “What has been achieved in year one is hugely encouraging, particularly for a generation of talented women who will form part of the diverse and better boards of the future.

“Year Two is about focusing on developing that pipeline of female executive talent, tackling all male boards and growing the momentum of change.’’

Over the next year, Lord Davies and his panel are planning to prioritise reaching the 25% target in FTSE 350 companies, and on building a sustainable, credible supply of board-ready women through training and development initiatives.


Helen Roxburgh