Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Business Secretary urges headhunters to seek out new female talent

All executive search firms were recently urged by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable to publish the numbers of men versus women they place in senior positions. This emphasis on transparency will help highlight those firms that are going the extra mile to find high calibre female candidates and tackle gender imbalance in UK companies.

Speaking at an event at the London Stock Exchange, hosted by the 30 Per Cent Club, Dr Cable also called on the CEOs of FTSE 350 companies to put firm plans in place to develop talented individuals in their organisations and ensure a healthy pipeline of female executives over the long term.

And he revealed that he is writing to every company and public body in which the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) holds an interest with the same request, and will ask Ministerial colleagues to do the same.

Vince Cable said:

“The great majority of business leaders I meet with now recognise the economic case for gender balance and are actively working with us to increase the number of women on their boards and executive committees. But we must also challenge the paternalistic culture and silent assumptions about women’s priorities that are ultimately keeping the glass ceiling in place.

“Headhunters have a crucial role to play in making sure there is a diverse pool of talent for business to choose from. So we are urging them to fish in a bigger pond, to identify new talent and to shine a spotlight on the selection and appointments. I’m delighted that eight executive search firms have today agreed to publish the data they collect on the percentages of men and women longlisted, shortlisted and appointed to executive positions. This will allow businesses to work with search firms that promote and are transparent about this agenda.”

“The Government also needs to think about improving the gender balance on our steering committees, in our stakeholder groups and our overseas delegations. I am using every opportunity to drive this message home in my own department and across government and maintain the momentum we’ve seen since Lord Davies published his review 18 months ago.”

A progress report published recently by Cranfield School of Management shows that women now account for 17.4% of FTSE 100 and 12.0% of FTSE 250 board positions. In the last six months, the percentage of new FTSE 100 appointments going to women has risen to 44.1%, and 36.4% in FTSE 250 companies.

Notes to editors:

1. The executive search firms who have so far committed to publish figures on appointments by gender are:

- Board Mentoring

- Investigo

- Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann

- Lygon Group

- Miles Partnership

- Sapphire Partners

- Sciteb

- Veredus

2. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries'. It set four ambitions in the
‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

- To create the most competitive tax system in the G20

- To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business

- To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy

- To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.

3. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices and speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.

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