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FTSE firms 'becoming complacent on boardroom equality'

FTSE firms 'becoming complacent on boardroom equality'

Complacency could be setting in among decision makers at FTSE-listed companies with regard to gender equality, a new study has indicated.

The 2013 Cranfield Female FTSE board report has indicated that while there have been vast improvements in terms of appointing females to senior positions within the country's largest firms in recent years, the rate of progress has slowed somewhat recently.

Published to coincide with Lord Davies of Abersoch's second annual review of his government-commissioned Women on Boards report earlier this week (April 10th), Cranfield's research has found that the momentum towards equality has decelerated in the last six months.

This trend is displayed in the fact that during the six months immediately following the body's report this time last year, some 44 per cent of all new board appointments at FTSE 100 companies were female.

However, over the course of the last six months, this figure has dropped to 26 per cent - a level significantly below the proportion of 33 per cent needed to meet Lord Davies' target of 25 per cent of women on boards by 2015.

Nevertheless, there are now 194 directorships held by females in 93 of the FTSE 100-listed organisations - a proportion of 17.3 per cent, which is a slight improvement on the level of 15 per cent posted in 2012.

Between 2008 and 2010, the number of women achieving such roles was effectively flat at a level below one percentage point, but Lord Davies noted that since work began to eradicate this problem, appointments have risen by nearly 50 per cent.

Lord Davies added that British business is now "moving to a place where it is unacceptable for the voice of women to be absent from the boardroom".

Speaking about her organisation's findings, Dr Ruth Sealy of the Cranfield School of Management said Lord Davies' targets are still achievable, but only if the rate of new appointments going to women "regains momentum promptly".

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Posted by Francesca Witney