Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has urged executive search firms to publish figures on the number of men versus women they place in senior positions.

This it claims will help highlight those firms that are trying to find high calibre female candidates and in doing so attempting to challenge gender imbalance.

Speaking at an event at the London Stock Exchange, hosted by the 30 Per Cent Club, Vince Cable also called on the CEOs of FTSE 350 companies to put stable plans in place to develop talented individuals in their organisations and ensure a healthy pipeline of female executives over the long term.

He went onto reveal that he is writing to every company and public body in which the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) holds an interest with the same request, and will ask Ministerial colleagues to do the same.

Cable said:

“The great majority of business leaders I meet with now recognise the economic case for gender balance and are actively working with us to increase the number of women on their boards and executive committees. But we must also challenge the paternalistic culture and silent assumptions about women’s priorities that are ultimately keeping the glass ceiling in place.

“Headhunters have a crucial role to play in making sure there is a diverse pool of talent for business to choose from. So we are urging them to fish in a bigger pond, to identify new talent and to shine a spotlight on the selection and appointments. I’m delighted that eight executive search firms have today agreed to publish the data they collect on the percentages of men and women longlisted, shortlisted and appointed to executive positions. This will allow businesses to work with search firms that promote and are transparent about this agenda.”

A progress report published today by Cranfield School of Management shows that women now account for 17.4% of FTSE 100 and 12.0% of FTSE 250 board positions. According to figures, in the last six months the percentage of new FTSE 100 appointments going to women has risen to 44.1%, and 36.4% in FTSE 250 companies.