UK Government

Government Equalities Office: May: everyone benefits if boards are more diverse

Press Release   •   Sep 17, 2010 10:35 BST

Companies and customers could lose out if more women don’t make it onto the boards of the UK’s top companies, Theresa May said today.

Speaking ahead of a roundtable event in London that brought together some of Britain’s biggest employers and most successful businesswomen, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality said that employers miss out on a huge range of insights and experiences if they fail to draw their senior staff from the widest pool possible, and promised to work with the private sector to improve the situation.

At present just 12.2 per cent of FTSE 100 directors are women, and a quarter of FTSE 100 companies do not have a single woman on their boards.
 
Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May said:
 
"In these challenging economic times we need to make the most of everyone’s talents and more balanced corporate boards are better for everyone – employers, employees and customers.
 
"By becoming more representative at all levels, companies can become more innovative and more productive and have a better understanding of what all their customers want and need.
 
"We’re taking action to help make this happen, with commitments to promote equal pay, extend the right to flexible working and promote a new system of flexible parental leave.

"But we’re not going to achieve change on our own, which is why we’re sitting down with business leaders to understand what works for them. I also want to hear from the companies that are already doing well in this area, so we can all understand how they attracted more women to senior roles without compromising on quality.
 
"The best person should always be the one who gets the job. If we’re going to make sure this happens, we need to work together to break down the barriers that keep women out of the boardroom."

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Please contact the Government Equalities Office press office on 020 7035 3253. Outside office hours call 07500 816 959.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

• Guests at the roundtable included: Lord Browne (former head of BP), David Reid (non-executive chairman of Tesco), Colette Bowe (chair of Electra Private Equity Investments), Carolyn McCall (CEO of EasyJet) and Richard Burrows, (chairman of British American Tobacco).

• Last month the Government Equalities Office and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced that Lord Davies had been appointed to look at the issue of why there are so few women on corporate boards and explore ways of working with the private sector to improve the situation.

• The Government is leading by example, with the aspiration to have women making up 50 per cent of new appointments to all open board-level roles in the public sector by the end of this Parliament.

• For more information on Lord Davies’ work on women in the boardroom, contact the BIS press office

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