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More than 50 chairmen sign up to 30% initiative for female board members

Chairmen include those from John Lewis, Centrica, Pearson, HSBC and Marks & Spencer

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More than 50 chairmen from the UK’s top companies have signed up to support a goal to ensure 30 percent of boards comprise women, the latest data showed on Wednesday.

Since 1 March 2012, women have gained 44 percent of FTSE 100 and 40 percent of FTSE 250 board appointments. This compares with 30 percent in 2011 and just 13 percent in 2010, the 30 percent Club said.

To reach the 30 percent Club’s goal of ensuring 30 percent of all boards are made up of women 145 more female FTSE 100 appointments are needed, the club said.

Some of the chairman who have signed up to the initiative include Charlie Mayfield of John Lewis, Sir Roger Carr of Centrica, Glen Moreno of Pearson, Douglas Flint of HSBC and Robert Swannell of Marks & Spencer.

In February 2012 Lord Davies set a target of 25 percent of all FTSE 100 boards to be made up of women by 2015 or companies faced the threat of mandatory quotes, an initiative the European Commission is considering.

At the end of June the FTSE 100 had achieved 16.7 percent of women on boards (up from 12.5 percent in 2010), with all-male boards falling from 21 to eight since 2010.

Theresa May, home secretary and minister for women and equalities, called the achievement a milestone, saying it showed that diversity was becoming a mainstream idea.

“More women on a company’s board is not just good for society; it’s also good for that company’s bottom line,” May said.

Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management who founded the 30 percent Club initiative, praised the success of securing support from more FTSE chairmen, critical to appointing more women on boards.

But she added: “Although these figures are encouraging, if companies want more women at senior levels, they will have to be open to embracing practices which accommodate the expectations of their staff as well as their stakeholders.”


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