For the first time since records started in 1999, the number of women in top level positions has fallen, according to data from The Professional Boards Forum (PBF). This is in spite of the fact that the deadline set by Lord Davies for 25% female representation on FTSE boards is just two years away.
It might be a fractional drop, from 17.4% to 17.3%, but Jane Scott, director of BoardWatch at the PBF, which aims to identify and promote senior women to non-executive directors, says female appointments to board level jobs have slowed down over the last year. “The numbers we’re talking about are very small so in itself that’s an insignificant change, but I’m quite surprised because we’ve been on a very positive growth path since the Davis report.” It’s difficult to determine the reason behind this drop, she adds.
The number of female directors has risen quickly since 2011, from 12.5%, however much of this growth is a result of non-executive appointments. The number of women working their way up through a company and making it onto the executive board has barely risen at all, from 5.5% to 5.8%.
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