FTSE 350 board members should be 33 percent female, suggests Davies report

BY Fraser Tennant

A target that all FTSE 350 Index board members should be 33 percent female by 2020 is one of the key recommendations made in a new report by Lord Davies published this week.

As well as the call for more female representation on the boards of the UK’s largest companies, the Davies report, which is the culmination of five years work on gender equality, also includes a review of the female executive pipeline.

Additionally, the report reveals that the UK’s FTSE 100 has reached a significant milestone, with 25 percent of board positions now filled by women – a target set by Lord Davies in 2011.

“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 six months ahead of schedule," said Lord Davies. “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.”

Overall, the Davies report makes recommendations in an additional four key areas. First, the national call for action and voluntary, business-led approach should continue for a further five-year period. Second, all FTSE listed companies are to assess the gender balance on their boards and take prompt action to address any shortfall. Third, FTSE 350 companies should extend the best practice seen at board level to improve gender balance and improve the representation of women on executive committees. Finally, an independent steering body (made up of business and subject matter experts with a newly appointed chair and members) should be convened to support business in their efforts and to act as a catalyst for sustained progress.

“Lord Davies has been an inspirational champion; he has thrown the gauntlet down to business and pushed them to do more than ever before," commented the minister for women and equalities, Nicky Morgan. “The government fully supports his recommendations because we are clear, that in order to deliver our commitment to extending opportunity we must do more to secure equality for women in the workplace and beyond.”

Following a review of the recommendations in consultation with key stakeholders, the steering body will detail its response in early 2016.

Report: Improving the Gender Balance on British Boards

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