Women heading in the right direction

Every FTSE 100 manufacturer has at least one female director on its board, according to a new EEF report.

The report revealed that over a third of manufacturing companies are at or above the Davies minimum 25% female board representation target, up from 31% last year, as well as, women now account for 21% of total directorships, a 2% increase from last year.

GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever are leading the way with five female board members each, while Diageo has the greatest proportion at 44%.

The report by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, is in partnership with Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and is the second annual assessment of the role of women in senior positions in manufacturing.

Last year’s report identified two manufacturers with an absence of female board representation. The companies, Croda International and Melrose Industries, have since dropped out of the report but now have one female board member each.

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

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.”

David Atkinson, UK head of manufacturing at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking SME, says: “It is reassuring to see that manufacturers are embracing change and addressing the lack of women within UK boardrooms.

“However, more needs to be done so that businesses of all sizes also recognise the need to develop the representation of women from the factory floor.

“The growth prospects of manufacturing businesses will depend on their ability to tackle stereotypes.

“By changing the perceptions of traditional industry, we can encourage a more diverse demographic to consider manufacturing-related careers.

“It is vital that we help improve the supply of talent to the sector to foster creativity and innovation, particularly if our nation’s ‘makers’ are to remain competitive on the global stage.

“As part of Lloyds Banking Group’s Helping Britain Prosper Plan, we’ve committed to better represent the diversity of our customer base and our communities at all levels, which is why we are aiming to have 40 per cent of senior roles held by women in the Group by 2020.”