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Letter: Boards need parity in non-executive roles too

Your article (“Companies urged to put more women in top posts”, Report, February 24) makes clear that following the end of the Hampton-Alexander review, more women executives must be appointed. However, the problem may be bigger than that.

Together with Dr Raina Brands and Professor Isabel Fernández-Mateo at London Business School, I have been looking at the 2,100 directors on FTSE 100 boards between 2010 and 2017. Yes, more women are serving on boards and being appointed as non-executive directors. Our data even reveal that women, once on a board, average a higher number of board committee memberships.

Yet they are less likely to chair committees, especially audit and nomination. This is particularly concerning as the latter is a key channel through which new board appointments come about. Women are also less likely to be chair of the board or senior independent non-executive director, both non-executive positions conferring a lot of power. So progress is needed in executive appointments. But it is important not to overlook the steps that must be taken to address diversity among non-executive directors, as there too men still hold the positions of greatest power.

Hans TW Frankort
Reader in Strategy, The Business School (Formerly Cass), City, University of London, EC1, UK

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