New bid to crack glass ceiling among FTSE 100 execs

The government is set to back recommendations that will force Britain's largest companies to ensure that at least 25 per cent of their highest paid executives are women.

Woman CEO
Earlier this year, the UK reached the target – set by the coalition government in 2011 – of getting women into a quarter of the board seats in the nation's 100 largest companies.Now, the Sunday Times has reported that, in October, the government will back an even more ambitious 'glass ceiling' proposal in a report from Lord Davies of Abersoch, the former Standard Chartered chairman, for 25 per cent of top-earning positions at FTSE 100 companies to be occupied by women within five years."The review... is intended to encourage companies to build a 'pipeline' of women who can lead Britain's biggest businesses," said the newspaper.Experts said that achieving such representation would be a far bigger challenge than increasing female representation at board level.Kate Grussing, managing director of head-hunting firm Sapphire, told the Sunday Times, "This will be a huge challenge for certain companies."To get women into top-earning positions will require a lot of nurturing and different kinds of thinking from management. Firms tend to have a big focus on promoting internally, whereas board positions are made up of external hires."Denise Wilson, who serves as chief executive of Lord Davies' review board, said, "We will focus on executive committees as well as the higher-earning positions in the FTSE 100 companies. It is important to set realistic but stretching targets."But Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire co-founder of the investment service Hargreaves Lansdown, told Monday's Daily Mail that he thought the proposal was "mad"."We've always been very pro-women and having boards with less testosterone can be a good thing," he said. "But companies should make these decisions for themselves. I don't think governments should enforce it."With men, you have a bigger pool to choose from – they tend to be more ambitious and positive."He added that government targets always created the risk of tokenism. "If there is a woman who is more capable than a man to do the job they should get it. But they shouldn't get the job just because they are a woman," he said.Although the government has met its target of getting 25 per cent female representation on FTSE 100 boards, there are still just six female FTSE 100 bosses: Carolyn McCall at EasyJet, Moya Greene at Royal Mail, Alison Cooper of Imperial Tobacco, Liv Garfield of Severn Trent, Alison Brittain of Whitbread, and Véronique Laury of Kingfisher.For more Re:locate news and features about leadership and management, click here.

Related Articles