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10% fall in female directors

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Despite making up 46 per cent of the UK workforce the number of female directors in FTSE companies has fallen by 10 per cent over the past year.

The 2006 Female FTSE report from Cranfield School of Management reveals that only 53 companies in the FTSE 100 have women on their executive committees, 30 have all-male committees and the rest do not reveal their senior executive team.

Even companies with good records in terms of female non-executive directors (NEDS) are still not addressing the lack of gender diversity in their senior executive committees.

The report shows that the total number of female–held directorships is down from 121 in 2005 to 117 in 2006. Within this, the number of female executive directors is only 15 out of a possible 391 executive seats.

In the Female FTSE Index, companies with the highest percentage of female board directors include first place Astra-Zeneca (four female NEDS) and second place British Airways (three female NEDS).

Lloyds TSB not only distinguishes itself with a 27 per cent female board, including two female executive directors and two female non-executive directors but also has a 33% female executive committee.

Reuters joins Lloyds TSB at the top of the executive committee index with its 33 per cent female executive committee, as well as having two female NEDS.

Report co-author Dr Val Singh of Cranfield School of Management, said: “The figures are disappointing, though do need to be put into context.

“Changes in board composition prompted by the Higgs review have led to a reduction in executive directorships and hence more competition for the fewer executive seats.

“The research highlights a glass door to the executive boardroom with a significant lack of women in the senior executive committee, the next generation of female executive and non-executive directors.

“It was therefore particularly encouraging to note the recent appointment of Cynthia Carroll as CEO of Anglo-American.”

Deputy minister for women Meg Munn said: “It’s disappointing that UK businesses are putting themselves at a real disadvantage by not selecting the best executives from the largest talent pool possible.

“Increasing the number of women at director level can extend a company’s portfolio of skills, provide role models for younger, high potential women and place companies closer to their customer base.”

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