UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (National): Women on boards review sees over two thousand responses

Press Release   •   Dec 03, 2010 11:30 GMT

More than 2,600 responses have been received to a call for evidence as part of Lord Davies of Abersoch’s review into the lack of women in the boardroom.

The call for evidence closed yesterday - Lord Davies will now consider the wealth of ideas put forward, before putting recommendations to Government in February 2011.

In recent weeks Lord Davies has also met with a number of interested groups, from institutional investors to representatives of the recruitment profession, to further discuss and debate the reasons why there is a lack of female representation in so many company boardrooms across the country.  Many ideas have come out of these meetings, with suggestions including trial periods in the style of internships on company boards and looking at ways to widen the talent pool by allowing recruitment from the services sector.

Vince Cable Business Secretary said:

“I welcome all the hard work that Lord Davies and his team are putting into this important review.  It’s not acceptable that just 12% of directors of FTSE 100 companies are women – and this is almost a decade after a comparable initiative to boost representation of women on company boards.

“I hope to see more businesses get behind this work and I look forward to seeing the full results of this review in the new year. In BIS I am setting up an advisory group of entrepreneurs, 80% of whom are women, and I hope this will promote a model for diversity."

Whilst the evidence collected for this review shows that there is much to be done to achieve acceptable levels of female representation in British boardrooms, some companies are to be recognised for the steps they have already taken to achieve this. The Cranfield Female FTSE 100 report launched today shows a number of companies are leading the way in changing things at the top.

The top five companies with the best female representation on their boards in the UK are:

  • Burberry Group (37.5%)
  • Diageo PLC (36.4%)
  • Alliance Trust (33.3%)
  • British Airways PLC (30%)
  • Pearson (30%)

Lord Davies said:

“It is right that we recognise the companies that are leading the way in encouraging diverse representation in their boardrooms.  However, there is still much more to be done and it is shocking that almost half of the FTSE 250 businesses do not even have a female board member.

“It is encouraging that this issue has received a lot of debate in recent weeks, but for real progress the whole of the corporate sector, government and the head-hunting industry must come together and get behind this.”

The Female FTSE Board Report 2010 is to be launched today by Cranfield University School of Management.

Notes to editors:

  1. Lord Davies was tasked by Vince Cable on 6th August to develop a business strategy to increase the number of women on the board of listed companies in the UK. Lord Davies is expected to report his findings to government in February 2011.
  2. The call for evidence as part of Lord Davies review of the lack of women on British boards closed on Tuesday 30th November 2010, after receiving more than 2,600 responses.
  3. BIS' online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.
  4. For more information on the Female FTSE 100 report please contact Cranfield School of Management press office on 01234 754 425 or email:

Terms of reference for Mervyn Davies review

To consider options for promoting gender equality on the Boards of listed companies.  In doing so to consider the obstacles to women becoming directors of listed company boards including looking at existing research about women on listed company boards and recent developments in international practice and to make proposals on what action should be taken to improve the position.

It should involve interested parties including Board members, executive search firms, investors and other interested parties in considering proposals for change.

The business strategy will be presented jointly to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Minister for Women and Equalities.  The business strategy should deliver a set of recommendations with supporting material outlining the thinking behind the recommendations and the views of key interested parties.  The final recommendations should be provided by February 2011.


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