A diverse board meeting

Inquiry into FTSE 350 board appointments: support for the inquiry

Quotes from FTSE Chairs, Directors and CEO's about our inquiry

Institute Of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators (ICSA)

'This report paints a stark picture of progress in achieving appropriately gender-diverse boards in UK companies, which is disappointing. The job of the chairman and nomination committee is to create an effective board team and the best person for the role will be the one who best complements the existing team. ‘Chemistry’ and ‘fit’ are critical criteria in making any board appointment. However, they should only be part of the consideration of who is the best person for the team. As the EHRC point outs in the summary report, it is possible to define terms like ‘chemistry’ and ‘fit’ in a slightly less nebulous manner. The key point for me is that they should never be allowed to introduce illegal discrimination into the process. ‘Chemistry’ and ‘fit’ should be about how people will work together, not about the physical characteristics of an individual, of which gender is just one factor. With that exception, we welcome the key recommendations of the report and believe that they will help to drive further improvements in boardroom diversity.'

Peter Swabey, Policy and Research Director

The Chartered Management Institute

'Lord Davies set the ball rolling and we’ve seen a steady rise in the overall number of women serving on FTSE 100 boards. As the EHRC report shows, this is being used as fig leaf by less progressive FTSE 350 companies. The Davies report proved that setting targets and being transparent in reporting works. It’s time for all FTSE 350 businesses to do the same. Such targets must be embedded in business planning; just parachuting women into board roles won’t lead to sustainable changes at the top. Companies must adopt measures to unblock the talent pipeline that prevents all too many women from aspiring to and achieving the biggest roles in business.'

Petra Wilton, Director of External Affairs

Lancashire Holdings

'Although progress has been made in meeting the Davies 25% target, more can be done to improve both practice and board diversity. Lancashire Holdings is proud of its achievements in meeting the standards of open and transparent appointment and in supporting increased diversity both at board level and throughout the company. I have been very proud to work with the Commission on this inquiry and I think the report and guidance provided by the Commission is to be welcomed.'

Martin Thomas, Chairman

Warren Partners

'As a search firm we have used advertising to support robust, targeted executive and non-executive board search as a means of attracting as diverse a candidate population as possible. We see real value in looking at different methods of publicising board appointments to drive transparency and equal opportunities.'

Joëlle Warren MBE, Founding Director

Fawcett Society

'This important EHRC inquiry reveals just how patchy progress at board level has been. It is unacceptable that almost half of FTSE 100 companies and over half of FTSE 350s have not achieved the 25% target. This is extremely worrying and suggests the more stretching target of 33% will require an additional intervention.

'In our view the time-limited use of quotas needs to be part of the solution. International evidence suggests that this approach works. What we need is more representative and more effective boards. It’s time to speed up the pace of change. The voluntary approach just isn’t going to work for many of these companies.'

Sam Smethers, CEO

Recruitment and Employment Confederation

'Fostering a diverse workforce is critical for businesses as well as for society generally, because businesses perform better when they are inclusive. Today's EHRC report is a wakeup call to the fact that there's a long way to go, but it's encouraging that some search firms are leading the way for promoting women on boards. Executive search firms are uniquely placed to explain the business case for diversity at board level and to help businesses break out of outdated recruitment practices, Our report, Room at the Top (PDF), set out practical recommendation to help recruiters take on this mantle.'

Kate Shoesmith, Head of Policy and Public Affairs

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019