More needs to be done on diversity

Although the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards is on track to reach 33% by 2020, a new report has found worrying trends implying that companies are appointing women for symbolic value. The Female FTSE Board Report, produced annually by Cranfield University’s School of Management, reveals that women serve shorter tenures than men (on average, female non-executive directors serve 3.8 years – with men serving 5 years) and are less likely to get promoted into senior roles.

Professor Sue Vinnicombe, lead author of the report, said: “Since we started our report more than two decades ago, we have seen the number of women on boards increase from 6.7% to 32%. There has clearly been great progress on the numbers front but scratch beneath the surface and we suggest that some companies have simply been ticking a box.

“There is mounting evidence that women have shorter tenures and are less likely to be promoted into senior roles than their male counterparts. The number of women in chair roles has decreased this year. We need urgent action to make sure that women are being appointed to boards on and recognised for their contribution, and not simply for symbolic value.”

The research is supported by the Financial Reporting Council, and CEO Stephen Haddrill said: “Diversity at board level, and at all levels of the workforce, adds real value to business culture and the bottom line.”