More women break through glass ceiling

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The Independent Online

One in five of Britain's leading companies have reached the Government's target of having women make up at least a quarter of their boards − three years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

The figures show the struggle to smash the "glass ceiling" in boardrooms is intensifying. In recent months, 44 per cent of all board-level appointments have gone to women, including Geneviève Berger at the pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca, Miranda Curtis at the retailer Marks & Spencer and Diana Layfield at the temporary power supplier Aggreko.

Only eight all-male boards remain, mainly at mining companies such as Glencore, Xstrata, Vedanta and Antofagasta. That's a sharp decline from the 21 exclusively male boardrooms noted by Lord Davies, the former trade minister, when he produced his Government-commissioned report in February 2011.

Overall 16.7 per cent of FTSE 100 board seats are held by women, the Professional Boards Forum reported. To reach the 25 per cent target for 2015, another 91 seats must go to women.

Elin Hurvenes, the forum's founder, said: "The figures contradict recent reports that chairmen only recruit mirror images of themselves. It also puts to rest the argument that board-ready women don't exist. UK chairmen are doing a good job."

The drinks giant Diageo has the most women in the boardroom− 44 per cent of its directors are female.

Burberry and Pearson, both led by women, are next best, with 38 and 33 per cent female representation respectively.