It was more than two years that the UK government had ordered that 350 of the biggest UK firms should ensure that at least a third of boardroom positions should be held by women by 2020. But there is not a single woman on the board of five British companies till now.
And only one woman to their boards – in a “tokenistic gesture”, was appointed by another 75 companies which was highlighted in a report on UK boardroom diversity by Hampton-Alexander review.
A call on consumers to boycott the firms that are “so clearly out of touch” was given by Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the government-commissioned review. It is necessary to put “human pressure” on firms that are denting the reputation of corporate Britain by politicians, the media and consumers, said Hampton, a City grandee and chairman of the pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline.
The report highlighted the five FTSE 350-listed companies that do not have any female members on their boards which include the investment trusts Herald Investment and JP Morgan Japanese Investment. Other companies highlighted are the Millennium & Copthrone is the owner and operator of globally, the Daejan Holdings which is the owner of a number of office properties including Africa House in London’s Holborn and Amigo Holdings the offers 49 per cent APR loans. Despite the firm Amigo making an appointment of a woman on its board just last Thursday, but that development was not included in the figures of Hampton-Alexander figures as the decision missed the deadline.
“They are so clearly out of touch,” Hampton said of the five companies. “And it would be good to see pressure from the media, politicians, ourselves [other business leaders] and consumers.”
While it might not be possible for consumers to exert any pressure over investment trusts, consumers can certainly chose not to stay at Millennium & Copthorne hotels to put pressure on the company, Hampton said. A official partner hotel of Chelsea Football Club, this FTSE 250 company has it majority shares with the Singaporean billionaire Kwek Leng Beng which is the owner of hotels and resorts in 79 countries. There was no comment available from Millennium.
The reasons chairmen and chief executives have cited for failing to appoint more women included : “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”; “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”; and “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”.
Compared to the situation in 2011, where there were 152 companies that have all male boards in the FTSE 350 companies, the current number of five companies with all member boards, which is still a deep concern, is a significant improvement since 2011, Hampton said. In contrast, all of the companies in the FTSE 100 index are well on their way to adhere to the norm of appointing women to at least 30 per cent of the board seats by 2020. In contrast, only 12.5 per cent of board seats were held by women in FTSE 100 companies in 2011.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)