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Female Directorships Up By 20%

November 25 2003 - This year's Female FTSE Index shows that, for the first time, there are more than 100 female directorships in the FTSE 100. Launched by Cranfield School of Management's Centre for Developing Women Business Leaders, the new research indicates growing numbers of women at the top of Britain's biggest businesses.

AstraZeneca and Marks and Spencer now have four female directors and women make up one third of their boards. Another nine companies have 20-30% female representation on their boards, a steady increase since 1999 when the Female FTSE Index was started.

Professor Vinnicombe, Director of the Centre for Developing Women Business Leaders, said:

"The increase in the number of women directors this year is very positive. What is particularly pleasing is that 22 companies now have multiple women on their boards. These women can now be seen as individuals as opposed to "the token woman".

Main findings:

* The number of female directorships (101) is up by 20% in 2003, compared with 84 in 2002.

* 18 (90%) of the top 20 companies by market capitalisation have women directors this year. This compares with only 8 (40%) of the bottom 20 companies by market capitalisation.

* 32 top companies still have no women directors at all.

* Onethird of women directors have titles (Baroness, Dame, Prof, Dr) compared to a fifth of male directors. It appears that 'branding' is more important for female than male directors.

* The number of female executive directorships has increased from 15 to 17.

* There is still only one female CEO (Marjorie Scardino of Pearson) and one female Chairman (Baroness Hogg of 3i).

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt commented:

"It is obviously good news that more boards are taking on female directors and drawing on the pool of talent available to them, but this report shows that there is still much more to be done.

"Women have trouble breaking into the boardroom in some companies, and even this year just 1 in 12 of FTSE 100 directors are women. That's not representative of their staff or their customers. Research shows that companies with a good mix at the top have better corporate governance records, and tend to be at the top in terms of market capitalisation.

"The best businesses are definitely realising that diversity in the boardroom goes hand in hand with good corporate governance, better customer relations, and, ultimately, is beneficial to the bottom line. Now the rest need to learn from the best."

Sir Philip Watts of Shell said:

"Shell's third-place in the Female FTSE 100 Index shows the progress we have made in a challenging industry. Diversity is part of running a good business. Shareholders, our customers and staff expect the business community to improve its diversity".

Dr. Val Singh, co-author of the report, said:

"The increase of all these statistics is encouraging, and it is great that so many top companies are doing "the bright thing" in terms of gender diversity on boards. But there is still much to do to identify and deal with the barriers for women in middle management, the next generation of women business leaders.

"So many companies seem surprised that high-flying women leave or stagnate in mid-career. More research is needed to understand this phenomenon, and what employers can do to retain and develop the women to full potential, to the advantage of the women, the organisation and the future talent pool for director appointments."

Female Index 2001
Female Index 2000

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