UK: Govt. committee recommends headhunters adopt code of conduct to raise number of women on boards, ask chairmen not to use agencies who do not publish figures on gender distribution

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Article
24 February 2011

Fifth of FTSE 100 firms have no women on board

Author: Simon Goodley, Guardian (UK)

A government inquiry headed by former trade minister Lord Davies is calling on the country's 350 largest public companies to ensure that 25% of their directors are female by 2015. However, the latest figures show that 18 FTSE 100 firms have no women on their boards, while only 16 blue chip companies can boast an executive director who is not male…A spokesman for PartyGaming, a FTSE 250 group with an all-male board, said: "Is there a strict rule that you've got to have women on the board? If women are right for a particular role they'll be there.” [also refers to Vedanta Resources, Essar Energy, Amec, Antofagasta, Associated British Foods, Autonomy, Bunzl, Randgold Resources, African Barrick Gold, Aggreko, Hammerson, Invensys, Kazakhmys, Weir Group, Wolseley, Fresnillo, Xstrata, International Power]

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Article
18 February 2011

Agencies to help women break glass ceiling

Author: Gill Plimmer, Alison Smith, Financial Times

Headhunters could face the prospect of losing business if they fail to sign up to a code of conduct aimed at raising the number of women on company boards in a crucial government-commissioned review into the glass ceiling...[P]articipants in the review say a key recommendation will ask chairmen not to use headhunters who refuse to publish the proportion of women they place on boards...Lord Davies is said to be “impatient” with headhunters’ reluctance to take a lead, for example, by offering support and training for women candidates who do not come from corporate life but from charities and public sector roles...Some executive search firms are already working on proposals that could form the basis of a code, believing that there could be an advantage in making the first moves rather than leaving them to critics. Other headhunters argue that the industry is being unfairly targeted when the ultimate responsibility for board appointments lies with company nomination committees.

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