Yorkshire firms lag in female board members

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​NEARLY 40 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have ​met targets to ensure that 25 per cent of their board members are female ahead of the 2015 deadline, but Yorkshire companies have put in a poor performance.

The findings will be presented ​by business secretary Vince Cable at an event in London today.

Mr Cable said: ​“Our target of 25 per cent women on boards by 2015 is in sight.

“However, the threat of EU mandatory targets remains a reality if we do not meet it.

“Businesses must not take their foot off the pedal during the final stretch – if we are to avoid action from Brussels we must continue to demonstrate that our voluntary approach is the right one and is working.”

Morrisons was the only Yorkshire firm in the FTSE 100 to meet the 25 per cent target. The Bradford-based grocer reported that 25 per cent of its board was female by October 2014, but this was down from 29 per cent in March 2014.

The other Yorkshire FTSE 100 constituent York-based housebuilder Persimmon came in the bottom 10 with only 11.1 per cent of its board female.

Looking further afield to the FTSE 250 of mid-tier PLCs, Yorkshire firms lagged significantly behind their counterparts.

The star performers were Saltaire-based set-top box maker Pace with a 33 per cent female board by March 2014 and Bradford-based credit lender Provident Financial with a 29 per cent female board.

North Yorkshire power producer Drax, which is led by chief executive Dorothy Thompson, beat the FTSE 250 average of 17.4 per cent female with a figure of 22 per cent, as did Leeds-based credit lender International Personal Finance.

But Hessle-based conveyor belt maker Fenner reported a 17 per cent female board, while Sheffield-based insulation group SIG reported a 14 per cent female quota.

Hull-based sausage maker Cranswick’s board is 13 per cent female, as is Leeds-based electronics distributor Premier Farnell.

The worst performers were Snaith-based natural chemicals company Croda International, with only 11 per cent female representation, and Hull-based telecoms firm KCom, which was one of only 28 FTSE 250 firms to have no female representation.

Mr Cable said that business must keep up the momentum for representation of women on their boards: “​British businesses must keep up the momentum and alarm bells should be ringing in the ears of those FTSE ​c​hairs who are not yet doing their bit to improve gender diversity.”

​Lord Davies of Abersoch​, who set the 25 per cent target,​ said:​ ​“I have never doubted that the UK has plenty of talented senior women, capable and willing to serve on FTSE boards. In 2011, British business said they could fix this problem on their own and I am delighted we are now seeing evidence of this.”

The ​top 10 most improved FTSE 100 boards between 2010 and October 2014​ were Old Mutual​, ​Aggreko​, ​Glaxosmithkline, ​​Wolseley​, ​​Land Securities, ​Associated British Foods​, ​Capita​, ​Petrofac​, Weir Group​ and ​HSBC​.

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