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FTSE 100 female directorships rises to 15 percent

Study author warns that there is still underrepresentation at executive level

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The percentage of female board members has grown after a three-year plateau, but there are still too few female executives, a study showed on Tuesday.

The Cranfield School of Management's Milestone or Millstone? report looked into the make-up of FTSE 350 boards. It reiterated conclusions by the Professional Boards Forum that the number of women on boards had risen to 15.6 percent by January 2012, an increase from 12 percent.

There are now 163 FTSE 100 board seats held by women, out of a total of 1,086 positions. The number of companies with no female board representation has dropped to 11, and there are 50 companies with more than one woman on the board.

However, Dr Ruth Sealy, co-author of the report, warned that more needed to be done.

"While the overall percentage of women on boards has begun to increase at an encouraging rate, it is hard to ignore the fact that most of the increase is occurring amongst NED directorships,"Sealy said. "While the increase in the numbers of female NED positions is important, it is imperative to ensure that as much focus is placed on improving the female executive pipeline."

The report was released to mark the one year anniversary of the report by Lord Davies of Abersoch called Women on boards. Lord Davies's report recommended a target of 25 percent female representation on FTSE 100 boards by 2015.

The Cranfield study showed that in the year to January 2012, 47 out of the 190 FTSE 100 board appointments made were women, a rate of 25 percent. Of these 47 women, 29 had no prior FTSE experience.

Lord Davies said "we're on a steady journey" to the target, but "a lot more still needs to be done.

"Over the last year some excellent progress has been made. We've seen a significant increase in the percentage of female board appointments and the number of all-male boards has halved," he said.

"We've got to keep up the pressure on business - particularly on FTSE 250 companies. And at the same time CEOs must try and improve the gender balance of their executive committees, because this isn't just about equality, it's about performance. And the simple fact is that the more diverse your team, the better it performs," he added.

Drinks company Diageo employed most females to the board, with four out of 11, including chief financial officer Deirdre Mahlan (pictured).


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