A New Milestone

We are delighted and encouraged by the latest figures released by the Professional Boards Forum, which show that the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards has crossed the psychological 20% milestone, demonstrating that momentum continues into 2014. Since March 2013, 27% of new FTSE 100 board appointments have gone to women. The ‘gap’ to reach Lord Davies’s target of 25% seats to be held by women by 2015 is now a mere 51 female appointments, with our target of 30% by the end of 2015 close thereafter.

We are also pleased by the news today that the London Stock Exchange plc, one of the last remaining companies with an all-male board, has appointed two exceptional women, Joanna Shields and Sherry Coutu, to its board. Only 2 FTSE 100 companies remain with all-male boards – Antofagasta and GlencoreXstrata, and pressure is mounting on them from all sides to review their situation.

This news could not have come at a better time. The threat of quotas from the EU still looms, and Germany has recently taken the disappointing step, although largely for political reasons, of introducing quotas for women from 2016 under the so-called ‘Frauenquote’ rule. We continue to believe that quotas will never be the answer; to appoint women on anything other than merit creates only an optical solution and will never facilitate meaningful and sustainable change. Today’s news demonstrates that the UK can and is succeeding in appointing women without quotas.