Concerns raised after reduction in female appointments to boards of FTSE 100 firms

Worries have been aired that the UK's firms may be becoming complacent when boosting the number of females on their boards.

The 2013 Cranfield Female FTSE Board report, from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders, indicates that during the first six months following March 2012, there was an encouraging pace of change.

It was found that almost half (44%) of new FTSE 100 board appointments were going to women, with this figure standing at 36% among FTSE 250 firms.

These levels, however, were short-lived and over the past half-year they fell respectively to 26% and 29%, indicating a large gap from Lord Davies' recommended 33% in order to reach the target of 25% women on boards by 2015.

Now, there are 194 directorships held by 169 women in 93 of the boardrooms which appear within the FTSE 100, which is equal to 17.3%, a small increase on 2012's 15% rate.

There was a drop in the number of FTSE 100 firms which have 100% male boards, and this figure now stands at seven. Meanwhile, 67% of firms on the FTSE 100 have a minimum of one female on their board.

Co-author of the report, Dr Ruth Sealy, from Cranfield School of Management, said: "Lord Davies' target for FTSE 100 companies is still in sight but only if the rate of new appointments going to women regains momentum promptly. Only a quarter (25%) of FTSE 100 companies have already achieved the target and the drop in the last six months is worrying."

Burberry sits at the top of the ranking this year, with three female directors out of a possible eight, which equates to 37.5% of the board.

It is the only FTSE 100 firm which has two executive directors who are women, with the chief executive and chief financial officer roles held by women.

Diageo came second, with four out of the 11 directors female, which makes up 36.4% of the board.

Following in third place are Capital, GlaxoSmithKline and Standard life, with a third of their boards consisting of women.

Authors of the report expect that if the FTSE 100 firms again find the momentum seen in the first six months of 2012, with one third of new appointments going to females, the 25% female target for FTSE 100 board directors should be met in 2015.

Copyright Press Association 2013