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Janine Milne

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News: women non-execs carve very different route to the top

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Women non-executive directors (NEDs) are recruited from far wider backgrounds than their male counterparts, a report by headhunters Ashton Partnership reveals.

Only 16 percent of the women in the analysis – Women on boards: where is the new NED talent coming from? – hailed from the traditional group CEO or CFO background, compared with 60 percent of the men.

Instead, they came from a variety of industries, such as investment banking, the not-for-profit sector and the public sector, as well as private companies. They were also more likely to come from fields such as human resources and marketing, rather than more traditionally male-dominated disciplines such as finance.

Although almost three-quarters of women had no main board experience, compared with just 37 percent of men, many had held senior roles, such as regional or divisional MD roles, just one step below the main board. The women also tended to be younger, landing their first FTSE 250 non-exec role roughly five years earlier than men, a possible reflection of the fact many become non-execs before they reach main board level.

Women account for 17.4 percent of FTSE 100 and 12 percent of FTSE 250 board members. This is still a long way short of the minimum 25 percent targets set by the Lord Davies Report in 2011, but things are moving in the right direction.

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