• Emily Prescott

The Telegraph: All-male boards could be a thing of the past by the end of the year at Britain's 350


There are just three companies in the FTSE 350 index which operate without a woman on their board CREDIT: REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI

All-male boards could be a thing of the past by the end of the year at Britain's 350 biggest companies, new data shows.


There are just three companies in the FTSE 350 index which operate without a woman on their board, including global hotel chain Millennium & Copthorne who parted company with their female CEOafter just three months in the job.


MPs have condemned the businesses, saying they “need to work harder.”


Vicky Ford, who sits on the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Those businesses that are still all male should take a look hard in the mirror and ask themselves why they have not embraced the vast pool of talent offered by 50 percent of the population.”


But Eddie Hughes, who sits on the same committee, was more upbeat, telling The Telegraph: "There is no shortage of experienced, professional, able women to fill these roles.


“I believe the companies simply need to work harder to recruit them to their Boards. So we certainly could see a woman on every Board of the FTSE 350 in 2019 - and I hope we do.”


This view was echoed by Brenda Trenowden, global chair of the 30% club, who said: “In 2019, those three FTSE 350 companies with all male boards start to stand out and it is not a comfortable position, so that will have to change. 


"We can most definitely expect more positive progress in 2019."


The three companies who have no female board members are: Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, who operate 20 hotels in the UK and a further 100 across the world, Daejan Holdings a property group who own Africa House in Trafalgar Square and TR Property Investment Trust.


Millennium & Copthorne Hotels split with their CEO Jennifer Fox in September 2018, after only appointing her to the role in June. Her departure was swiftly followed by that of another female non-executive, leaving the group with no women at the top table.


A spokesperson for the company said: “These resignations were unexpected and the vacant positions on the Board created by them have yet to be filled.  


“The Nominations Committee of the Board is in the process of conducting a search for at least one new independent director."


The Group acknowledged that it needs to do more to promote gender diversity.


Mark Jenner, Company Secretary for Daejan Holdings, said: “We have not appointed any executive directors for more than 30 years. We haven’t needed to.  


“We appointed three representatives of the controlling family as non executive directors for succession purposes.  


“We appointed two independent non executive directors as required by the Listing rules, they happen to be male.  


“We don’t have any current plans to appoint any more directors for the time being as there are no vacancies but we keep the situation under review.”


TR Property Investment Trust has only operated without a woman on its board for eight days, after Susie Proctor stepped down from her non-executive role last week.


Hugh Seaborn, the company’s chairman, said: “This is very much a temporary state.

“We have five board members and have had at least one woman as part of our leadership group for the last 17 years.


“We are in the process of recruiting for the vacant position and have every chance of finding a high calibre female. I believe that diversity is fundamental for the balance and mix of a board.”


A spokesman for the Government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department said: “Diversity is good for businesses and for the communities they serve.  


“Thanks to a combined push from government and industry, in under a decade the number of all-male boards in the FTSE 350 has dropped from 152 to just three.


“We still need greater diversity at the top and want to see women holding a third of senior positions in FTSE 350 companies by 2020.”


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