The Parliamentary Yearbook has been following closely the Government’s drive to increase the proportion of women in British boardrooms and will be publishing the results in the next edition
In February this year David Cameron warned that the lack of women in Britain’s boardrooms is holding back the country’s economic recovery. The Prime Minister said there was clear evidence to signal that ending Britain’s male-dominated business culture would improve economic performance.
In 2010, 27% of board-level appointments at FTSE 100 companies went to female applicants, but one in ten of Britain’s biggest firms at that time still had all-male boards.
A Government-commissioned report last year said quotas should be imposed unless top firms acted to increase the number of women on their boards to at least one in four by 2015.
Today however Business Secretary Vince Cable announced that new official statistics show that the number of women in the boardrooms of the UK’s top companies has increased in the past year.
This week sees the first year anniversary of the voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms.
The code, developed by leading members of the industry in direct response to Lord Davies’ review into ‘Women on Boards’, sets out seven key principles of best practice for executive search firms to abide by throughout the recruitment process.
Since Lord Davies’ review and subsequent report, the number of women appointed to the boards of the UK’s top companies has reached unprecedented levels, with women now making up 16.7% of FTSE 100, and 10.9% of FTSE 250 boards, up from 12.5% and 7.8% respectively in 2010.
Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, said:
“The progress we have seen in the past year proves that the UK’s business-led approach to achieving boardroom diversity is working. The Voluntary Code of Conduct has played a key part in this progress.
“Diverse boards are better boards: benefiting from fresh perspectives, talent, new ideas and broader experience which enables businesses to better reflect and respond to the needs of their customers.
“This is good for women, good for companies who need to be the best they can be in order to compete in today’s tough global market place, and ultimately good for the UK economy as a whole. It is essential that Executive Search Firms and Chairmen continue to use the Code to increase this rate of change”.
Lord Davies said:
“I am very pleased to see the progress that has been made over the past year since the Code of Conduct was launched.
“I welcome the continued efforts and collaborations of Executive Search Firms and business groups to ensure that we see a sustainable and consistent change and that talent is recognised regardless of gender.”
Since March of this year women have made up 44% of newly appointed FTSE 100 board directors and 40% of those in the FTSE 250. The Executive Search Firms Code of Conduct, which requires 30% female long-lists and encourages firms to expand their traditional search avenues, has been welcomed by Executive Search Firms, Chairs and Candidates.
Over the last year Executive Search Firms have seen a continued culture shift amongst their clients, who are increasingly open to considering a wider range of female candidates and are placing a strong priority on appointing qualified women.
To date 34 leading Executive Search Firms have signed up to the code.
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 four 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.
The Parliamentary Year book will continue to report on the progress of the measures as we go through the months ahead.