Women directors make progress but not enough

13 May 2014

The EEF reports that female board members account for just over one fifth of directorships in FTSE 100 manufacturing companies.

All of Britain’s leading manufacturers now have at least one female director on their boards, according to a new report by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, in partnership with Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. However,  more needs to be done, says new report  

Women now account for 21% of total directorships in FTSE 100 manufacturing companies, a figure up from 19% last year. However, only just over a third (36%) of manufacturing companies are at or above the minimum of 25% female board representation target, recommended by Lord Davies in the Women on Boards Report, although this figure is up from 31% last year.

The manufacturing sector is being urged to do more to tackle the industry’s outdated ‘dirty and unglamorous’ image and to nurture talent from classroom to boardroom.

Last year’s report identified two manufacturing companies with no female board representation – Croda International and Melrose Industries. Both have since dropped out of the FTSE 100, but now have one female board member each.

The percentage of non-executive (NED) roles going to women has grown from 23% last year to 25% in 2014, while executive director (ED) roles remain static at 8%. Just under one in 10 female board members (9%) are EDs, compared to one in three (29%) amongst their male peers.

The report also examines some positive examples of female progression amongst SMEs. Senior women in SMEs agree with 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 identify 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. Previous research shows that six in ten manufacturers (60%) believe that better careers advice in schools would encourage more young people into the sector.

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