Legal & General give all-male boards a kick in the cojones

The influential fund manager has said it will vote against chairmen of male only boards after 2015.

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 14 Oct 2013
Legal & General, one of the City’s largest fund managers has threatened to vote against any chairman of a FTSE 100 company with an all-male board after the 2015 deadline for diversity, outlined by Lord Davies.
The group has said it is currently reviewing its policies for annual meetings and is letting companies know that if they don’t have women on their boards come 2015 or if they have no aspirational targets, then it will vote against the chairman.
There are currently only six companies in the FTSE 100 with all-male boards and if Vince Cable’s cajoling doesn’t spring them into action, perhaps these warnings from Legal & General will.
Apparently the fund manager has been playing with the idea of action against companies with all-male boards for a number of years.
Recent figures showed women make up 19% of FTSE 100 boards, still falling short of the 25% target by 2015 set by Lord Davies in his 2011 review. There has been more improvement when it comes to non-executive director roles, 24% of these are taken up by women, but overall, equilibrium feels a long way off.
‘More women in the boardroom is an important first step, but our efforts must also extend into the executive level of companies as well,’ Vince Cable told The Guardian (in a rare break from talking up the Royal Mail).
‘Too often we are seeing talented women leave their jobs in the middle parts of their career to look after children and not return to work. This not only creates a brain drain in key sectors, but it is also hindering women's career progression because they are playing catch-up with their male counterparts if they do return.’
Women make up only 6.1% of executive roles in the UK, a mediocre rise from 5.5% back in 2011. Hopefully the blustering from Legal & General will stoke further debate around the subject and make sure that as we approach 2015, it is still at the forefront of our largest companies’ minds.

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