Lord Davies’ report ‘Women on Boards’ 6 months on

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The six months monitoring report has been published it reviews the progress since Lord Davies’ report ‘Women on Boards’ set out a series of recommendations to increase the number of women on company boards.

The study suggested that companies should publish the number of women sitting on their boards and working in their organisations and recommends that businesses in FTSE 350 companies should set their own targets for increasing female representation on their boards by 2015.

He suggested that the FTSE100 should challenge themselves to increase the proportion of female directors on their boards to 25% by 2015.

In the 6 month update just published, female directors represent 22.5% of all appointments since March 1st 2011 to FTSE 100 boards lifting the percentage from 12.5% to 14.2%.

On FTSE 250 boards there female directors represent 18% of all new appointments so up from 7.8% to 8.9% of all board seats on FTSE 250 boards. For the first time it is now the minority of FTSE 250 companies that have all-male boards.

Board Mentoring works with leading organisations, to develop a more diverse talent pool.
Its Vision is “To improve performance and diversity in the boardroom”
Companies serve their customers and stakeholders best when the leadership team is diverse and where there is diversity of thinking.

All companies need to work harder to develop a more diverse Board and especially those with large numbers of female employees and customers. Half of FTSE 250 companies still have no women of their Boards and only around 8% of directors are women.
With the news of the Mothercare CEO’s resignation perhaps this is a perfect opportunity for the Board to appoint a woman…..

In response to Lord Davies’ progress report six months on from his review on gender diversity in the boardroom, Richard Emerton, Head of Korn/Ferry’s Board Practice, EMEA, comments:
“While companies have not yet achieved the 30% target set out in the code, there is some evidence that the code has made a positive difference in board diversity, with 22 per cent of all FTSE 100 board appointments going to women since the report was published.

“There are two main issues that need to be addressed: demand and supply. To address demand, it is important to understand that companies rightly want the best board they can get, whatever its make-up. So to drive real cultural change, boards and investors need to be convinced that more diversity in their leadership team can add value to the business. Consolidated evidence that introducing greater diversity, in the right way, brings about increased value for shareholders would certainly help to accelerate demand. Companies, and the consultancies with whom they work, also have a responsibility to take a broad and inclusive view of the leadership talent that could enhance their board.

“In order to address the supply issue, companies and consultancies need to think more broadly about the candidate pool. As well as regularly identifying diverse candidates including senior women across Europe with executive experience, in virtually every conversation with a board member we ask for recommendations of next-generation women to build on this knowledge. We are also extending our network of less-visible female leaders, for example those that have previous experience in, but have now stepped away from, large corporate organisations and those who have predominantly public sector experience.
Women and young people are the most badly affected by the financial crisis, as the unemployment figures in the news today confirm, so it is critical that companies consider the impact of their decisions on female customers and employees. For example women are more likely to work part-time and these have been shown to be the first jobs to go in a recession. Having more women and more diversity on the Board will ensure that the impact of Board decisions is balanced as ‘they are better corporate citizens…they keep asking the awkward questions.’ (Cranfield FTSE Board report 2010).

Other news shows that Britain’s top companies will face more pressure to increase the number of women on their boards from next year under a new code that stopped short of quotas seen in other European countries.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said this week that its tougher rule will force listed companies to spell out annually their policy on diversity, ‘any measurable objectives’ set to implement it and progress made.

The regulator’s code was updated last year to say diversity was a good thing.
It reinforced the emphasis on Britain’s ‘comply or explain’, code-based approach as capable of delivering a flexible and rapid response and declared it preferable to detailed legal regulation. The FRC urged companies to demonstrate this as quickly as possible.

Mentoring can help women gather the skills they need – and this is critical to success. Organisations must focus their investment on developing a diverse talent pool and this will pay-back in the medium and long-term.
Board Mentoring has a team of outstanding women mentors – and they mentor both men and women to improve diversity of thought in the boardroom. To quote Roger Carr in the Cranfield report of 2010 (the 2011 report is due to be published this month) “women add value to the role with a different mindset, a different skill set and a different style. Boards are intellectually and socially enriched by the presence of women, more reflective of the markets they serve and I believe consistently more effective through balanced judgement in decision making.

Board Mentoring works with leading companies to develop their talent into the Boardroom. Its mentors are leading women who have held executive and non-executive roles in the UK’s leading companies. Founder Gillian Wilmot said “I’m a passionate believer in the value of diversity on Boards and this can be achieved by a combination of clear leadership within companies and mentoring.”

“Furthermore, to improve the supply of women as board level candidates it is also important to look deeper than board level and examine why enough women aren’t rising to positions where they can even be considered for board posts. More needs to be done to support female employees earlier in their careers to help them reach the highest levels.”

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