By Daniel Hunter

Business Secretary Vince Cable has today (Wednesday) written to the Chairman and CEOs of the last seven FTSE 100 firms with all-male boards, urging them to take action to increase the number of women in the boardroom.

The letter from the Business Secretary comes on the back of the announcement by Randgold Resources that Jeanine Mabunda Lioko has joined its board as a non-executive director.

He has asked the remaining companies, Antofagasta, Croda, Glencore, Xstrata, Kazakhmys, Melrose and Vedanta, to explain what steps they have taken to increase their female board representation and how they plan to make their boardrooms more diverse. The number of all-male FTSE 100 boards has fallen from 21 in 2010.

“Over the last two and a half years we have seen real progress in the number of talented women reaching the boards of our top companies," Business Secretary Vince Cable said.

"During that time the number of all-male boards has fallen from 21 to the last seven remaining today, with the welcome news from mining giant Randgold being the latest step. My vision by 2015 is that Britain will not have a single FTSE 100 board without a significant female presence.

“Businesses should be making sure they have the right people around their top table. This is not about equality, this is about good governance and good business. The international evidence supports this: diverse boards are better boards benefiting from fresh perspectives, opinions and new ideas which ultimately serve the company's long term interests.

“I do recognise that for some businesses, like those in the mining and extractives industry in particular, there are unique challenges in diversifying their boards with the right experience. The frequent travel and project based work in remote areas of the world have all been cited as barriers to appointing more women in the past. However, successful modern companies learn to adapt and survive and doing nothing is not an option anymore. We've seen examples again today that this can be done and I am determined to see further action.”

In line with the efforts to increase boardroom diversity, last week Vince Cable announced that three of the five appointments to the Business Bank Advisory Group will be female. In addition, he also announced that Dale Murray was the latest female non-executive appointment to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Departmental Board. Seven of the 21 attending the Departmental Board, and four of the nine attending the Executive Board, are female.

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