Hargreaves Lansdown boss: Gender quotas for firms are 'mad' and men are 'more ambitious and positive' than women

Peter Hargreaves says his company is "very pro-women"

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Companies should not be forced to hire more women bosses and men are “more ambitious and positive”, according to one of Britain’s top financiers.

Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, described as “mad” government plans to ensure one-in-four top executives are women.

A government-backed report by Lord Davies, to be published this autumn, is expected to back such a quota.

But Mr Hargreaves has told the Daily Mail that – while his firm is “very pro-women” - this amounted to “tokenism”.

He said that companies should have the ultimate say on the composition of their boards.

He said: “We’ve always been very pro-women, and having boards with less testosterone can be a good thing.

"But companies should make these decisions for themselves. I don’t think governments should enforce it.

“With men you have a bigger pool to choose from – they tend to be more ambitious and positive.”

“If there is a woman who is more capable than a man to do the job they should get it.

“But they shouldn’t get the job just because they are a woman.”

At present, women account for just 8.6 per cent of directors on FTSE 100 executive committees – management teams that sit just below the board.

The Lord Davies report is expected in October, with companies expected to hit targets within five years.