Diageo welcomes women business leaders report

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Women's presence in the board room is growing
Women's presence in the board room is growing

Related tags Ftse 100 index

Diageo has welcomed a report finding big businesses are on track to meet their target of 25% of women board members at Financial Times Stock Exchange 100(FTSE100) companies by the end of the year.

The brewer said it was proud to have four women on its board of 11 and backed the report that claimed more must still be done to increase the presence of females on the boards of top UK businesses. 51% of the UK population are women.

There had been a revolution in boardrooms of FTSE companies over the past four years since the voluntary target was set, the author of the report Lord Davies claimed.

“Representation of women on FTSE 100 boards now stands at 23.5%, with 18% women’s representation on FTSE 250 boards,” ​he said.

No all-male boards

“British business is well on its way to achieving the 25% target by the end of the year. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of the London Stock Exchange, there are no all-male boards in the FTSE 100.”

There are now only 23 all-male boards in the FTSE 250 and dramatic decrease since the Davies Review launched in 2011 when there were 152 all-male boards across the FTSE 350.

“I consider this a major achievement and clear indication of the profound culture change taking place on British boards,”​ Davies said.

“However the job is not yet done. I am confident that we will meet the 25% in the coming months, and with continued action and focus, this paradigm shift will be sustained in the long term.”

Food and drink businesses included in the FTSE100 include: Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, SABMiller, Tesco and Unilever.

Diageo’s leading ladies

  • Deirdre Mahlan, chief financial officer
  • Peggy Bruzelius, non-executive director
  • Betsy Holden, non-executive director
  • Nicola Mendelson, non-executive director

Davies has now set a new target of one third of women on FTSE350 boards.

Norman Broadbent, a firm of head hunters which finds executives for businesses, said it expected this new target to be met before 2020.

‘Disappointing and missed opportunity’

The recommendation was “disappointing”​ and a “missed opportunity”,​ Norman Broadbent’s md for board practice Krystyna Nowak claimed.  

“By only increasing the target for the percentage of women on the PLC board, many companies will just continue the trend of appointing women to  non-executive director positions, manipulating board composition to achieve targets and leaving the executive board to continue to be dominated by men,” ​she said.

The onus now lay on the bosses of top businesses to promote women to executive positions, she added.

“The government now has a chance to address these issues in its equality boosting measures planned for 2016,” ​she added.

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