Ethical Performance
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FTSE to meet gender target but boards remain “stubbornly white and male”

April 2015

While the 2015 Cranfield Female FTSE Board Report confirms that Britain’s top boardrooms are set to meet the 25% women on boards target this year, critics maintain that the percentage of female or non-white executive directors in the UK’s biggest companies remains “pitfully small”.

The report reveals 23.5% of FTSE 100 boards are now female (up from 20.7% last year), with 263 female held directorships across the FTSE 100. The percentage of non-executive directors has increased to 28.5% and women in executive directorships is at an all time high of 8.6%.

Only 17 more female appointments are needed across the FTSE 100 boards to reach the target set by the Lord Davies review. If the appointment rate of one woman to every two men appointed is sustained over the coming months, the Cranfield authors expect the 25% target to be met before the end of this year.

The percentage of women directors on FTSE 250 boards has also risen to 18%, with 65 FTSE 250 companies having met the 25% target. However, it is not all good news for the FTSE 250. Twenty-three still have no women on their boards and the percentage of women holding executive directorships has fallen to 4.6%.

Indeed, Marianna Fotaki, of Warwick Business School, a Professor of Business Ethics and co-author of Gender in the Organisation: Women at Work in the 21st Century. said: “Although this is welcome progress, why are Britain’s boardrooms so stubbornly white and male? Despite a growing consensus that companies with more diverse boards perform better or take more ethical decisions, the percentage of female or non-white executive directors in the UK’s biggest companies remains pitifully small.
“Lack of diversity hurts businesses and gives the wrong message to younger generations. Diversity brings different perspectives, greater innovation, and people tend to behave more ethically, rather than conforming to the social norms of the in-group. Diversity is not just good practice - it’s simply the right thing to do.

“Yet all-white executive teams run 69% of FTSE 100 companies – that’s up from 65% at the start of 2014, according to a study by Green Park Executive Recruitment, which found not a single person of Chinese or east Asian origin on the board of any of Britain’s biggest companies. According to the Office of National Statistics, 14% of the UK population is non-white.”

UK & NI Ireland | gender balance


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