Female Board Membership

November 2013 has seen the publication of the Female FTSE Board Report 2013 by Cranfield University.  Whilst it shows some increase in the numbers of women on FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 boards there is still a significant gap in gender representation in the boardroom.  The ‘glass ceiling’ remains very much intact.

In the light of the Davies Report into Women on Boards which proposed, inter alia, that FTSE 100 companies reach a target of 25% female representation at board level, there had been a marked increase in female board appointments.   According to researchers at Cranfield, last year saw the biggest rise in female board membership since records began.  There is, however, little room for celebration…

The Latest Statistics

The percentage of women on main boards of FTSE 100 business is just 17.3% and the position for FTSE 250 businesses makes worse reading still at 13.3% .  The glass ceiling appears positively bullet-proof, however, in smaller companies which fair worst of all with just 7.6% of board members being female. [1] 

It would appear that gender parity within the boardroom is still a long way off.

Proposed EU Legislation

So far the UK has been reluctant to enact any kind of positive discrimination legislation in order to remedy the apparent failure of companies to make female board appointments.  Where the UK government has failed, Europe may step in.

The European Commission is debating measures that might increase  female representation at board level.  The proposed EU Directive brought by Luxembourg Politician, Viviane Reding, the Vice President of the European Commission, calls for a 40% quota for female board membership.  It is intended that the directive will apply to all businesses with turnover in excess of  50 million euros.  At least 1000 UK businesses would be affected if the directive comes into force.