A group of UK businesses has begun an initiative to press for more women directors on corporate boards. The 30% Club, as it's known, aims to raise the number of women directors on corporate boards to about a third by 2015, reports The New York Times. And they want to do it without a quota system, such as those required in Norway and France and one being phased in by Spain.
Women make up about 12.5 percent of directors at the 100 largest publicly traded companies in the UK and many companies have never had a woman on the board. That's compared with 15.9 percent on the boards of Standard & Poor's 500 companies in the United States. I wrote recently that companies in Silicon Valley have been increasing the number of women directors, though women make up just 8.6 percent of all Silicon Valley board members.
Says the Times:
A new British corporate governance code that took effect in June, partly to help avoid another banking crisis, says that boards should be 'well balanced,' with gender diversity, to avoid 'group think.'
It also quotes Ruth Sealy, deputy director of the International Center for Women Leaders at the Cranfield School of Management, saying:
... the momentum is gathering in Britain. People have been talking about this for a long time, but the noise and the seniority of people who joined the discussion has increased.