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Women on boards at all leading manufacturers, finds report

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EEF reveals women account for 21% of directorships in FTSE 100 manufacturing companies

All of Britain’s FTSE 100 manufacturers have at least one female director on their boards, according to a new report by manufacturers’ organisation EEF.

The Women in Manufacturing report shows that women account for 21% of directorships in FTSE 100 manufacturing companies. Women hold 64 out of 305 manufacturing board seats, compared to 59 out of 309 seats and 19% of board positions last year.

The research found that some manufacturers are ahead of the game – GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever both have five female board members each, while Diageo has four, but leads in percentage terms with 44% of board places taken by women.

Last year’s EEF report identified Croda International and Melrose Industries as having no female board representation. Both companies have dropped out of the FTSE 100, but now have one female board member each.

The percentage of non-executive roles going to women has increased from 23% last year to 25% in 2014, while executive roles remain static at 8%. Just under one in ten female board members are executives, compared to one in three among their male peers.

The EEF report found that SMEs employ almost 60% of manufacturing workers, with the majority of manufacturing businesses falling into this camp. This suggests that while it is important for women to have a voice in the boardroom, it is just as important to ensure they are reaching senior levels in SMEs too, the report says.

The report also found that senior women in SMEs agree with the views of their FTSE female peers, advocating increasing gender diversity through encouragement and development, not enforcement. Rather than quotas, they want to see companies take steps to identify and support talented women, improve the image and perception of manufacturing and do more to engage with schools. 

They also identified how important it is for girls to be taught Stem subjects with passion and to be exposed to inspiring role models, mentors and careers advice.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, said: “The message from this report is clear – manufacturers are heading in the right direction, but cannot afford to let up. We are matching other industries for female board representation, but there is no room for complacency. If our sector is to continue to thrive we need to be fishing from the entire talent pool and that means ensuring women have the right skills and opportunities and are represented at every level.

“Many of the leading women in manufacturing are equally clear – quotas are not the answer. They advocate evolution, not revolution, with companies continuing and improving their work to identify and nurture talented women and taking bigger strides in showing that a career in our sector is an attractive, exciting and equal opportunity for all. But, this isn’t just about what we as manufacturers can do. The work starts in the classroom where we must see a boost in the number of young women taking Stem subjects and encouraged to raise their career expectations.”

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