Balancing the Board
In 2011, Lord Davies published “Women on Boards”, a report which favoured a voluntary, business-led approach rather than quotas for greater female board representation.
The report recommended that the FTSE 100 aim for 25% women directors by 2015. A review of this report, published on 29 October 2015, highlighted that this target has been exceeded (at 26.1%). This is right to be lauded but more progress should be made.
This review introduces a new target of 33% female representation on FTSE 350 boards by 2020 and improvement of the number of women at executive level. Again Lord Davies does not support quotas and the debate of voluntary targets vs quotas continues. That aside, there is a strong argument that a gender-diverse board enhances performance as it lends legitimacy to the business, improves reputation and enhances competition, both internally and externally.
A briefing note published by the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 2015 showed that only 15.4% of directors of the Top 100 NI companies are women. There are fantastic success stories amongst that number – Janet McCollum, Chief Executive of Moy Park, the biggest company in NI, and Helen Kirkpatrick, director of UTV and winner of the IoD Non-Executive Director of the Year 2014, to name but two. However, there needs to be a renewed focus on nurturing female executive talent on a local level to ensure Northern Ireland business doesn’t fall behind in this increasingly competitive global economic market.
Ciara Lagan, Partner at Tughans.
While great care has been taken in the preparation of the content of this article, it does not purport to be a comprehensive statement of the relevant law and full professional advice should be taken before any action is taken in reliance on any item covered.