Britain mulls imposing quotas for female directors

Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:11am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Blue-chip British companies could be given two years to increase the number of female directors or face quotas as part of a government review looking to increase the number of women sitting on company boards.

The proposal is one of several measures being considered by a government panel looking into why there are so few women on the boards of UK-listed companies.

The panel, headed by former trade minister Mervyn Davies, meets on Monday to debate its final recommendations in a report to be published later this month, a spokesman for the Department of Business said.

Countries across Europe are considering quotas to tackle the low levels of women in company boardrooms.

Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann has faced criticism in Germany after joking that the inclusion of women on the bank's all-male executive board would make it "more colorful and prettier."

Female directors take up just 135 of the 1,076 directorships on the boards of FTSE 100 companies in Britain, according to a report by the Cranfield School of Management.

Statutory quotas are just one of a raft of measures being considered. Other proposals include voluntary targets, as well as creating an academy of company chairmen to mentor female executives to take up boardroom positions.

The review is also examining why women may be put off taking up directorships and is considering more transparency for recruiters and headhunters when looking for people to fill boardroom positions.

Britain's central bank, the Bank of England, also currently has no women on its nine-person Monetary Policy Committee.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Steve Addison)