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Companies slow to set women on boards target

Fourteen of the FTSE 100 boards are still all-male

Just 33 of the FTSE 100 companies have set targets for the percentage of women they aim to have on their boards, a progress report has revealed.

In February, former trade minister Lord Mervyn Davies of Abersoch carried out an independent review, Women on Boards, which recommended that chairmen of FTSE 350 companies set goals for increasing the proportion of women in the boardrooms by September. He suggested a minimum figure of 25 percent.

Sixty-one of the FTSE 100 companies have responded to the review, acknowledging the gender diversity problem. However, six months on from the review, Prime Minister David Cameron said that companies could be doing much more: "There is still a long way to go to encourage the best to rise to the top of industry, regardless of their background or gender.

"I want to see more companies setting out their plans for women on boards and driving this forward."

Just two of the 33 companies are in the technology industry, Sage and Vodafone. The rest of the list includes Aviva, BAE Systems, Centrica, Rolls-Royce, Sainsbury's, Unilever and Tesco.

Banks also feature prominently, with Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC also setting targets to increase the number of women on their boards to at least 25 percent by 2015.

Only eight companies in the FTSE 100 have set the at least 25 percent target to be reached earlier, by 2013. One of these is BSkyB, which currently has one of the lowest percentage of women on its board, at just 7.1 percent.

There are still 14 all-male boards in the FTSE 100, down from 21 in 2010.

The progress report shows that there has been a slight increase in the number of women who are FTSE 100 directors - from 12.55% in 2010 to 14.2% this year.

Women also make 8.9 percent (up from 7.8 percent last year) of FTSE 250 directors.

Theresa May, home secretary and minister for women and equalities, said: "Better use of women's skills could be worth billions of pounds to our economy each year. I am pleased with the progress reported today, but there is still a long way to go.

"Increasing women's representation at senior levels will increase diversity and help close the gender pay gap."


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