The government announced last week that Lord Davies, a former government minister, will develop a business strategy to increase the number of women on the boards of listed companies in the UK.

Research from Cranfield University has highlighted a lack of female directors in Britain’s top businesses, with women making up only 12.2 per cent of directors of the FTSE 100 companies in 2009.

The FTSE 250 companies have an even lower proportion of female directors at 7.3 per cent, and nearly half of them do not have any women in the boardroom.

Lord Davies, who is also the former chair of Standard Chartered PLC, has been asked to build on the work carried out by Professor Laura Tyson in her 2003 report called “Recruitment and Development of Non Executive Directors” by:

  • identifying the obstacles to women becoming directors of listed company boards
  • making proposals on what action government and business should take to improve the position.


Lord Davies will present his recommendations by the end of the year.

The government has also announced another aspiration - that by the end of the Parliament at least half of all new appointees being made to the boards of public bodies will be women.

Terms of reference for Davies review

“To consider options for promoting gender equality on the boards of listed companies. In doing so to consider the obstacles to women becoming directors of listed company boards including looking at existing research about women on listed company boards and recent developments in international practice and to make proposals on what action should be taken to improve the position.

It should involve interested parties including board members, executive search firms, investors and other interested parties in considering proposals for change.

The business strategy will be presented jointly to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Minister for Women and Equalities. The business strategy should deliver a set of recommendations with supporting material outlining the thinking behind the recommendations and the views of key interested parties. The final recommendations should be provided by December 2010”.

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