Business minister Vince Cable urges head hunters to be open about gender balance

Head hunters have been pressed to publicise the gender balance of the candidates they get to fill their top jobs.

Business Secretary Vince Cable wants to know how many people of each sex are placed by executive search firms to identify companies which work hard to recruit women to powerful positions - to try and reduce inequality in the workplace.

The MP called for more openness about gender and recruitment when he spoke at an event hosted by the 30 Per Cent Club at the London Stock Exchange.

Dr Cable also asked for the chief executives of FTSE 350 firms to make sure they are doing all they can to help skilled people prosper and grow within their companies.

And he said good long-term planning for career development would help make sure there were plenty of talented women to take on executive roles in the future.

He told the audience that he was sending a letter to every organisation in which the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills holds an interest to ask them to publish details of how many men and women are in high level jobs.

He said most of the leading business people he had come into contact with recently understand how important it is to have a balance of male and female employees.

And he said they were taking steps to try and make sure more women hold executive roles and are members of their boards.

Dr Cable added that he had already secured agreements from eight executive search firms to make the proportion of men and women who had been appointed to executive roles public, as well as the percentages of each gender who have been long-listed and shortlisted for jobs.

Latest figures from Cranfield School of Management have revealed women now hold positions on the boards of 17.4% of FTSE 100 and 12% of FTSE 250 companies.

And more than four out of 10 people who have been appointed by FTSE 100 companies since June were women, while females got just over one in three new jobs at FTSE 250 firms in the last six months.

Copyright Press Association 2012