7 November 2000 - The first annual FTSE Female Index demonstrates that few women are
present on the boards of Britain's biggest businesses. The FTSE Female Index is a new campaign focused
on changing the male-dominated world of the boardroom. The campaign is a joint initiative between
Harriet Harman MP, The Fawcett Society and The Industrial Society.
Harriet Harman MP, says: "British boardrooms are one of the last remaining 'no-go' areas
for women. We lag far behind the US, where business recognises the value of diversity and
reflects on their boards the importance of women employees and women consumers. The task now
is to expose the extent of the problem, to work for change, to set a target that within 3 years
there should be no all-male boards in the FTSE top 100, to monitor progress and to provide a
support network to the women who make their way onto boards. The boards of British business
should be a meritocracy not just "chairman's chums". British business needs a culture change
to create family-friendly workplaces. We will never see that culture change being led by
Ironically, in the last few days the CBI (the boys in the boardroom's own pressure group)
attacked government plans to extend legislation in order to encourage family-friendly work
practices. Male resistance towards equality and diversity is frequently cloaked in
self-justifying terminology such as 'a burden on business', 'unnecessary form-filling', and
'creating paperwork'. But, of course, the unnecessary burden of is something else...
Will Hutton, chief executive of The Industrial Society comments: "This initiative is aimed
not just to raise the profile of this issue but to provide the nominations committees of
British boards with a panel of potential women board members from whom they can recruit. We
need to get onto a virtuous circle in which more women will come forward to join their ranks."
As part of the campaign FTSE 100 companies are ranked according to the number of women board directors.
Although women make up over half of the UK workforce, fewer than 2% of FTSE 100 executive
directors and less than 8% of non-executive directors are female. Very nearly half (49%) of
these companies have no women on their boards; 54% have no women non-execs; and a staggering
91% have no female executive directors.
Pearson tops the league table with all of two women - Gillian Lewis and Marjorie Scardino -
on an eight-strong board. Smithkline Beecham comes next, also with two (Baroness Hooper and
Dr Lucy Shapiro) sitting on a larger board of 11. Third comes Barclays Bank, again with 2 female
directors. Bottom of the list is Standard Chartered - with an all-male board of 17.
Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Fawcett Society, says: "The lack of women on boards of
directors is not because of a lack of talent. We've seen over the last few years, with
appointments to public bodies, how much can be done if the will is there. Businesses that want
to compete in the modern world can't afford to ignore the skills, talents and perspectives of
half the population."