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‘Shocking’ lack of female board directors in UK

Only 9% of women are board members in Britain’s top 350 companies

Photo of business woman: istock

18 October 2011

A report published by Deloitte has highlighted the ‘shocking’ lack of women on the boards of Britain’s biggest companies. The report reveals that:
  • The proportion of women on FTSE 350 boards has increased from 5% to 9% over the past 10 years;
  • At this rate, it will take 20 years before women represent 30% of the boards of FTSE 350 companies;
  • Almost half of all FTSE 350 companies have no female board members 

Discrimination in the City

This report is published soon after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) produced its Inquiry into Sex Discrimination in the Finance Sector which lamented the fact that four decades after the introduction of the Equal Pay Act a gender gap still persists across the economy.  This differential is particularly stark in the financial services industry where women earn significantly less on average than their male colleagues.

Lord Davies, in his independent report in February 2011, recommended that UK companies to have 25% female board membership by 2015.  This target seems sadly ambitious today.

Camilla Palmer, recently identified by the Legal 500 as ‘probably the leading discrimination solicitor in the country’, specialises in representing high-flying business women in their discrimination claims.  The picture painted is all too familiar to her. 

“It is shocking that 35 years after gender equality laws came into force women are still being sacked because they are pregnant or on maternity leave, still being passed over for promotion and denied equal pay and bonuses.  Not only is this unjust and unlawful, but it is poor business practice”

See Camilla's letter in the Guardian 18.10.11 for her thoughts on the solutions to solve the challenge of female under-representation at the top levels of business.

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