HC Deb 09 June 2004 vol 422 c484W
Sandra Gidley

To ask the Minister for Women what plans she has for introducing(a) legislation and (b) other initiatives to encourage the appointment of more women as (a) executive directors and (b) non-executive directors to the boards of FTSE 100 companies; and if she will make a statement. [175927]

Ms Hewitt

Board appointments are a matter for companies and their nomination committees and shareholders. The Government recognises the need for all board members to be recruited on merit.

The Higgs Review drew attention to the importance of a rigorous selection process. As a consequence, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC)'s Combined Code, issued in July 2003 contains revised principles and provisions in this area.

Following publication of the Higgs and Tyson reports, a series of roundtable meetings were organised by my Department in partnership with several leading companies. This took forward discussion with Chairs, Chief Executives and senior figures from business, to raise awareness about the business case for greater diversity on boards and to gather examples of good practice.

We have also commissioned research to assess the current representation of directors from diverse backgrounds on FTSE 100 boards. This research has now been completed and will inform our thinking in this are which is one to which my right hon. Friend and I attach great importance.