Lord Davies of Abersoch
London: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, and Government Equalities Office
Area of focus: 
Data Story

A UK government report commissioned to provide recommendations for increasing female representation on boards of listed companies. The report argues the business case in terms of increased financial performance resulting from improved board performance, access to a wider talent pool, responsiveness to the market and better corporate governance.

An analysis of current (as of 2011) UK diversity statistics is provided, as is a description of typical board sizes, compositions and skill requirements. An appendix provides a wide-ranging report on statistics from other nations, and strategies employed by governments to improve representation. Case studies from Norway and Australia are described in detail. A survey of executives' beliefs about barriers and avenues to change was undertaken, the results of which are outlined and discussed.

The report recommends a business-led approach over the alternative of imposed quotas. Its specific recommendations include: that chairmen and CEOs of FTSE350 companies set out percentages of female representation on boards and executive committees they aim to achieve by 2013 and 2015; that listed companies disclose gender diversity figures annually; that companies be required to establish a diversity policy; that the Nominations Committee's work should be summarised within the annual report for each company; that investors use the gender diversity of a company's board as a criterion for evaluating investments; that executive search firms should draw up a voluntary code of conduct, including diversity and best practice as articles; and that the recognition and development of high potential female candidates be fostered.