June 26, 2014 / 11:39 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Miner Glencore appoints first female board director

* Glencore had been criticised for lack of female directors

* Mining sector lags others for female representation

* Patrice Merrin holds number of other industry posts (Adds data, PIRC comment)

By Silvia Antonioli

LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) - Commodity trader and miner Glencore Plc, the last London-listed blue-chip company with an all-male board, has appointed Patrice Merrin as its first female board director.

The group had come under fire from some shareholders over its apparent failure to follow recommendations in a 2011 British government review that called for more women on company boards.

Merrin, appointed a non-executive director with immediate effect, had worked at Canadian miner Sherritt for a decade before becoming chief executive of Canadian thermal coal producer Luscar.

She is also a director of mining company Stillwater and has been proposed as director of MFC Industrial and Cliff Natural Resources.

The government’s Davies Review set a target for all companies in the FTSE 100 index of leading shares to have a quarter of board roles held by women by 2015 - a target particularly challenging for the commodities sector.

Commodities was this year found to be the listed company sector with the lowest percentage of female board members, at only 13.6 percent against an average 24.7 percent, according to researchers Nordic Investor Services.

Those findings echoed a 2013 report from accountants PwC which said it had found mining lagged any other sector, including oil and gas, in terms of sector diversity, with only 5 percent of board seats held by women in the top 500 mining companies globally.

The same study noted that profit margins were higher for mining companies with women on the board.

Glencore’s appointment came after Chairman Tony Hayward said in May the company would appoint a female director by the end of the year.

“Patrice’s in-depth experience of operating across the resources sector will help strengthen the board’s ability to work with the opportunities and challenges presented by the global extractive industry,” Hayward said.

Merrin could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for London-based fund adviser Pensions Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) said: “We welcome the appointment and we look forward to hearing more from Glencore with regards to their plans to create more diversity at board level.”

Since the UK’s Davies review, which did not recommend formal quotas, female representation on FTSE 100 boards has risen to 20.7 percent by March this year, from 12.5 percent in 2011, according to figures from the Davies group’s annual Women on Boards review.

Chile-focused copper mining firm Antofagasta was the second-last FTSE-100 company to appoint a woman to its board of directors when it named Vivianne Blanlot as a director in March. (Editing by Jane Merriman and David Holmes)

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