Davies has just published his second annual review of progress on the recommendations in his Women on Boards report of 2011. Much progress has been made. Women now account for 17% of FTSE 100 and 13% of FTSE 250 board directors (as at 1 March 2013), an increase of nearly 40%.[pullquoteright] “We are now moving to a place where it is unacceptable for the voice of women to be absent from the boardroom.”[/pullquoteright] Crucially women have secured 34% of all FTSE 100 and 36% of all FTSE 250 appointments since 1 March 2012 – the increase in 18 months is equivalent to the increase in the whole of the last decade! He comments “We are now moving to a place where it is unacceptable for the voice of women to be absent from the boardroom.”
But the increase has plateaued, and Davies is now proposing a target of 25% minimum by 2015. He argues this is the best and only way to avoid European regulation.
Importantly he identifies an emerging risk. While women are now better represented in NED roles (at 16%) only 5% of FTSE 250 executive directorships are held by women. The FTSE 100 equivalents are little better: only 6% of executive directors are women compared to 22% of non-executive. This highlights the critical importance of the executive pipeline. Unless organisations focus on developing the talent right across their workforce (and not just the male half) women may opt for the greater opportunities offered by a portfolio of non-executive roles. As Davies puts it there is a risk that women will be “sidelined into supervisory non-executive roles, whilst the active day to day business of running companies is left to their male counterparts.”
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