UK’s Davies Report a Sign of Growing Investor Focus on Board Diversity

by Nathaniel Parish Flannery forThe Corporate Library Blog, February 24th, 2011.

According to GovernanceMetrics research, 1 in 3 European companies and almost half of all U.K. companies have no female directors.

Across the globe, board diversity is coming to the center of the public debate on corporate governance reform. According to an article published this week in the New York Times, in many developed markets despite long-standing legal protections, women continue to be grossly underrepresented in the highest echelons of most major public and private institutions.  For example, according to a recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research, there are just 29 women on the boards of Germany’s 200 biggest companies.

GovernanceMetrics found that out of the 4,205 companies we cover in countries around the globe, only one, Pacific Brands Limited (ASX: PBG), an Australian retail company, has appointed a majority of female directors to its board. In reaction to the public debate on boardroom gender inequality, a number of countries around the world have implemented new requirements regarding the inclusion of female directors on corporate boards.

For example, in the U.K.’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills recently commissioned a report on board diversity by the country’s former trade minister, Lord Mervyn Davies.  The report, Women on Boards, which was published today, sets a voluntary quota to encourage FTSE 100 employers to boost the number of women on boards to 25% by 2015. (continue reading… )



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