The independent review by Charlotte Sweeney, a diversity consultant,
made 10 recommendations to increase the number of women on the
boards of Britain's biggest companies.
"The headhunting community is a crucial catalyst to introduce more
capable women in the boardroom," said Business Secretary Vince
Cable, who commissioned the review.
"However, they can often be one of the first hurdles that talented,
board-ready women face when trying to reach the top, so I welcome
any efforts to improve the transparency of the industry."
The review called on headhunting firms to share gender ratio
statistics with the government at all stages of recruitment so that
it can assess how successfully its gender equality "code of
conduct", set out in a 2011 review and signed up to by 70 search
firms, is being implemented.
The 2011 government review, by former trade minister Lord Mervyn
Davies, said all FTSE 100 <.FTSE> companies should aim for at least
a quarter of their boards to be comprised of women by 2015, though
it stopped short of advocating enforced quotas.
Some progress has already been made, with women now making up 20.4
percent of board seats in Britain's 100 biggest listed companies, up
from 12.5 percent when Davies conducted his review, according to the
latest data from the Professional Boards Forum, which tracks female
Two all-male FTSE 100 boards still remain: Glencore Xtrata <GLEN.L>
and Antofagasta <ANTO.L>.
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FTSE 250 companies lag behind, with women making up just 15.1
percent of those board seats.
Sweeney's review said "a database of board-ready women" should be
created and shared with other shareholders, like investor groups and
the 30 Percent Club, an independent organization named after its
target for female board representation.
The review also proposed that executive search firms should commit
to putting forward at least one strongly recommended woman on the
short lists given to the chairs of companies for all board
Davies will publish his annual "Women on Boards" report later this
(Reporting by Jemima Kelly; editing by
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