Getting Women on to Corporate Boards
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Getting Women on to Corporate Boards

A Snowball Starting in Norway

Edited by Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen and Marina Brogi

This book provides unique insights into how the idea of quota laws to get women on to corporate boards gained international momentum from its origins in Norway. Invaluable insights are gained through the stories of actors involved in shaping the discourse and practice on women of boards.
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Chapter 28: Women on boards in the UK: accelerating the pace of change?

Ruth Sealy and Susan Vinnicombe


Since 1999, Cranfield School of Management’s International Centre for Women Leaders (CICWL) has produced an annual census of women on corporate boards in the UK, called the Female FTSE Report. From an initial 1999 figure of 6.9 per cent of top 100 listed board seats held by women (including executive, insider and non-executive, outsider director- ships), the figures increased incrementally year on year. But by the end of the first decade, it appeared that the growth in numbers of women on boards had faltered. The 2010 Female FTSE Report described stalling figures of 12.5 per cent (Vinnicombe et al., 2010). Interestingly, a similar two- to three-year plateau could be seen in figures from the USA and Canada (at between 14 and 15 per cent respectively), the other two Western economies monitoring this issue for the previous decade. But 2010 signalled change in the UK. The CICWL team have always worked closely with both government and big business, keeping both informed of the status quo in other countries and on various initiatives implemented at organizational and governmental policy level. The 2010 Female FTSE Report received increasing media coverage as the topic of women on boards started to hot up across Europe. The topic of quotas was on the table with many European governments, but this was never going to sit comfortably in the UK. We watched with interest in 2010 how business in Australia responded to the government’s blatant quota threat.

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