One of the long-term issues in corporate governance has been to address the question of diversity at the top in companies, and particularly achieving gender-balanced boardrooms.
Across Europe, several countries have chosen to address this issue by passing legislation and introducing quotas. Norway was the first to act on this diversity issue in 2008. The Norwegian government introduced a legal quota for publicly listed companies that obliged them to reserve 40% of their board seats for women. Other countries later followed suit with quotas, including France, Belgium, and Spain.
The UK did not choose the legislation route and instead set voluntary targets.
The Lord Davies Review was the first UK government-backed initiative set up to address the issue of lack of female representation in 2011. Back then, over 150 companies in the FTSE 350 did not have any women on their boards and the overall average stood at about 10% women on boards of FTSE 350 companies.
The Lord Davies Review ran until 2015 when it was succeeded by the Hampton-Alexander Review which set new targets. Among them, one of the key targets was for 33% of board positions to be held by women in FTSE 350 companies by 2020. This target was achieved in May 2020, when the FTSE 350 hit 33% women on boards for the first time.
It is important to note the contribution of other stakeholders on this journey, including top executive search firms, the 30% club (set up in 2010 before the Lord Davies review), and the Cranfield University Female FTSE report. BoardEx is proud to have been a partner to all the bodies mentioned above, providing the data to the Hampton-Alexander review and its predecessor the Lord Davies Review.
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