By Maximilian Clarke

The 30% Club today launches its investor action group to mark the one year anniversary of the initiative.

This group, led by Jupiter’s Head of Sustainable Investment and Governance, Emma Howard Boyd, will work in a personal capacity in order to help coordinate the investment community’s approach to the issue of increasing female representation on boards. In particular, the group will work towards broadcasting the investment case for more diverse boards, encouraging all investment firms to engage on the issue of board diversity with Chairmen and management teams and to consider the issue when voting on the appointment and re-election of board members. The group comprises representatives from seven major institutional investors including Aviva Investors, The Co-operative Asset Management, F&C Investments, Jupiter Asset Management, Legal & General Investment Management, Newton Investment Management and Railpen.

The past year has seen the 30% Club go from strength to strength, attracting support from the leaders of some of the UK’s largest companies as well as recognition from the Prime Minister for its work on improving gender diversity in British boardrooms. The Club now boasts 30 supportive Chairmen from firms such as Lloyds Banking Group, Centrica, RBS, KPMG and Deloitte, all of whom recognise the vital importance of diverse boards. These firms are actively helping the 30% Club to reach the desired goal of 30% female representation on UK boards by 2015.

Highlights since launch have included Helena Morrissey’s speech on boardroom diversity at Downing Street, the inaugural “Actions Beyond Words” seminar at Cass Business School attended by the Rt Hon Theresa May and a successful submission to the Financial Reporting Council for its amendments to the UK Corporate Governance Code to strengthen the principle of boardroom diversity.

More importantly, November’s figures put the current boardroom statistics for FTSE 100 companies at 14.6% female directors, up from 12.5% a year ago. This equates to 24% of board appointments being women since 1st March 2011. There still remain 12 all-male FTSE 100 boards but this is a significant decrease from 21 a year ago. The FTSE 250 has performed less well with a mere 8.8% women directors up from 7.8% and 47.6% all-male boards down from 52.4%. However, 22% of board appointments since 1st March 2011 have been women.

“Looking back over the past 12 months, there is no doubt that we have much to celebrate,” said Helena Morrissey, Founder of the 30% Club and CEO of Newton Investment Management. “However, there is no room for complacency. As we look forward to 2012, we should continue to challenge companies whose boards remain too male dominated and “identikit”. Only by holding these firms to account will we see the changes we have set out to achieve. This is one of the primary functions of our newly launched investor group and we look forward to working with members of this group to tackle these boards and encourage change at the very heart of the issue.”


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