Most of corporate Britain is “stepping up and responding” to Lord Mervyn Davies’s call for more women in boardroom roles.
Today, 95 of the FTSE 100 companies count women on their boards, as do over two thirds of all FTSE 350 companies. Last month, however, business secretary Vince Cable admitted that the momentum of women winning top posts “appears to be slowing”.
Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller said: “We are making good progress; two-thirds of women are working and the gender pay gap is closing. Both Lord Davies’s and Cranfield’s reports indicate that we are heading in the right direction when it comes to women’s representation at senior levels.”
Women now hold 22 per cent of non-executive FTSE 100 posts, up from their original 15.6 per cent, according to Board Watch. Despite the increase in female directors from 12.5 percent in 2010 to the current 17.4 per cent, the number has stayed the same since August 2012. The four newest directors include Tesco’s Olivia Garfield, Barclays’s Diane de Saint Victor, Old Mutual’s Danuta Gray and Resolution’s Belinda Richards.
There are only three female chief executives on the list: Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, Imperial Tobacco CEO Alison Cooper, and EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall.
Recent news indicates that Ahrendts is now the highest-paid executive in Britain. Her package of £16.9m tops her closest rivals (men) by £5m. It’s the first time that a woman has risen to the top of the executive pay league. This could signal a reversal in the slowing rate of women hired to Britain’s top corporate roles.
Don’t cheer too soon, though. Although it is extraordinary that a woman has out-earned men in corporate Britain, it would be wrong to interpret a female topping the CEO pay list as a breakthrough for women’s equality.
“The majority of Britain’s boardrooms and senior positions remain closed to women. There is still a 15 per cent pay gap between men and women on full-time hours and an even bigger gap in part-time roles, which are mostly filled by women,” said Frances O’Grady, general secretary of TUC.
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