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Business must keep up the momentum for representation of women on their boards, according to Business Secretary Vince Cable, who has announced the top 10 most improved companies (4.2.15).

Based on the percentage point increase in female representation, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) says the top 10 most improved FTSE 100 boards between 2010 and October 2014 are:

  • Old Mutual
  • Aggreko
  • Glaxosmithkline
  • Wolseley
  • Land Securities Group
  • Associated British Foods
  • Capita
  • Petrofac
  • Weir Group
  • HSBC

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

It’s fantastic to see such how much progress has been made in increasing gender diversity on boards over the last four years.

The fact that the top ten most improved boards include companies from a range of sectors, including those who historically have struggled to build their talent pipelines, shows that Lord Davies’ voluntary approach is working, but it’s clear there’s a lot more to do.”

First Women Summit

On this and wider questions around women and work, Katja Hall also addressed the inaugural First Women Summit (4.2.15). The summit has developed from the First Women Awards which recognise pioneering women in business.

Her comments included:

Being a leader in the business world is a demanding job. Balancing your career and family life can be difficult. I think that’s a choice that many people in business face – both men and women. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that most women feel the choice more pressingly.

The CBI is clear about, and champions the need for, more women in business.

Progress to date

As of June last year, there were no all-male boards on the FTSE 100.

By October, women made up 22.8% of FTSE 100 boards — almost double where it was when Lord Davies recommended a target back in 2011.

The work by Lord Davies, and organisations like the Women’s Business Council or the 30% Club have helped drive progress.

We’ve seen a big change in workplace culture and a challenging of old prejudices – that women cannot juggle family and work or that the workplace must be 9–5.

More to do

Talent Pipelines

We need to address the perception of what is a traditionally ‘male’ or ‘female’ job to strengthen pipelines to the top.

High quality careers advice is vital – and we need to be encouraging more women into traditionally male industries like engineering.

Career v Kids

Making sure women aren’t forced to choose between a career and their kids by giving everyone access to more affordable childcare.

The CBI wants the government to extend free childcare to all one and two year olds and then ensure maternity pay is paid for the full 12 months of maternity leave.

And these are just the sort of issues we at the CBI are taking on through The Great Business Debate.

So I’d encourage you to get involved – and have your say on the website or on twitter @bizdebate.

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