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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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Women inch towards equality in the boardroom

Category : Business

Since the Davies report set its 25% target, there has been some painful, but measurable, progress

A man and a women start their careers in the same role, at the same company on the same day. They are promoted at the same time, achieve the same level of seniority and retire at identical moments. How much more did the man earn?

The answer, at least according to a poll of 38,843 executives conducted by the Chartered Management Institute late last year, is £423,390. The higher up the ladder you climb, the bigger the pay differential too, with female directors earning an average salary of £127,257, £14,689 less than males in equivalent roles.

The statistics are shocking and caused a predictable stir, coming at a time when the issue of sexual equality in business – and more specifically of women rising to the most senior corporate roles – had started to gain momentum following the publication of Lord Davies’s report “Women on Boards” in February 2011.

At the time of the peer’s report, just 12.5% of FTSE 100 directors were female, while only 7.8% of board members in the FTSE 250 were women, and Davies set a voluntary FTSE 100 target of 25% of directors to be female by 2015.

Despite the lack of compulsion, progress has been made, and most observers predict that target will be hit, even if the statistics still appear cringeworthy. Now 17.7% of FTSE 100 directors are women, according to the Professional Boards Forum’s BoardWatch, with another 80 hires required to hit the 25% target. In the FTSE 250, 12.4% of board members are female and if Davies sets a 25% target on the mid-cap index, as he has suggested he will, then another 254 women need to be appointed.

Jane Scott, a director at the Professional Boards Forum, says: “2012 brought sustained progress in the number of women non-executive directors appointed to UK boards. Half of new non-executive appointments in the FTSE 100 since March last year went to women, and 45% in the FTSE 250. In 2008, the rate had been hovering around 10% to 12% of new appointments, so this represents a very significant uplift.”

However, some of the movement has been in the wrong direction. Last year’s resignations of Dame Marjorie Scardino and Cynthia Carroll – who ran Pearson and Anglo American respectively – robbed the FTSE 100 of half its female chief executives, leaving just Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts and Imperial Tobacco’s Alison Cooper. Some 7% of FTSE 100 executive directors, and just over 5% in the FTSE 250, are female. Meanwhile, eight FTSE 100 companies, plus 79 in the FTSE 250, still cling to all-male boards.

Yet in other parts of the economy the statistics are even starker. Research conducted for the Observer by analysts BoardEx reveals that out of Britain’s top 100 private companies, only 64 even publish the composition of their boards. Of those, 73% have all-male teams of executive directors, 51% have only male non-executive directors and 56% possess all-male boards. In the FTSE 250, the corresponding statistics are 71%, 32% and 28% respectively.

Ann Francke, the chief executive of the CMI, says: “It’s disappointing to learn that the track record for the UK’s top private companies is even worse than it is for the FTSE 250. Again, this underscores the endemic nature of the issue – and highlights that the UK’s firms are missing out on the potential growth benefits of a more diverse management culture at a time when we need it most.”

Among the large private companies with zero female boardroom representation are betting group Gala Coral, whose bingo customers are overwhelmingly female; the gym group Fitness First, which operates numerous women-only gyms; the catering firm Brakes Group; Ineos, the chemicals giant that is Britain’s second-largest private firm; and Virgin Trains, whose figurehead, Sir

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Quotas for women on boards best way to raise talent

Category : Business

Women’s minister Maria Miller thinks mandatory quotas are dreadful – but accomplished female executives are being passed over in favour of less talented male counterparts

Mandatory quotas for women on the boards of companies would be a dreadful idea. So says Maria Miller, the minister for women, who wants promotion to be based on removing barriers rather than political correctness.

Britain, she notes in a speech on Wednesday, doesn’t need a meddling Brussels to tell us how to run our businesses because the fact that 44% of all board appointments in the past six months have been women shows that the voluntary approach is working.

That’s one view. Another way of slicing and dicing the figures shows that not one woman executive director has been appointed in the past six months, with the real power wielded by men, as it always has been.

But it is not the selective interpretation of the statistics that is the strongest counter to Miller’s argument. Nor is it that the same voluntarist line is trotted out to no effect when it comes to executive pay. It is not even that Miller is missing the point when she describes quotas as patronising, when the real issue is women being passed over in favour of less talented men.

No, the real problem with the voluntarist approach is that it will perpetuate mediocrity. Male boards will beget male boards, with the odd female director of human resources for those companies that like to consider themselves go-ahead. There would be a case for the status quo if the country was booming as a result of macho UK plc. But it isn’t.

Euro MPs snub bank in gender row

Category : Business

The European Parliament rejects a nominee to the European Central Bank’s executive board because the ECB’s top managers are all male.

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Plan for female quotas on EU company boards dealt blow

Category : Business

UK and others derail proposal as row breaks out over posting that would ensure all-male European Central Bank executive

EU plans to enforce a much higher profile for women in the European business elite have been thrown into disarray, with a Brussels commissioner being told to try again on legislation to compel female quotas on company boards.

The defeat for Viviane Reding, the commissioner for fundamental rights, came amid another row over sexism at the apex of the EU. Herman Van Rompuy, the European council president, pleaded with the parliament in Strasbourg to endorse the appointment of Yves Mersch (a man), from Luxembourg, to the executive board of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Mersch’s appointment, which looks inevitable despite being delayed by parliamentary opposition on grounds of gender, would make the six-strong ECB executive all male, and its governing council of 23 also exclusively male.

Reding has been pushing though new draft EU legislation insisting on 40%-female quotas for company boards across Europe, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. The proposals fell foul of British-led opposition among the EU member states, with at least 10 governments reluctant to impose quotas.

Those countries argued that the issue should not be legislated at EU level but rather left to national policy-making, and that policies already being pursued in member states to redress the gender imbalance should be given time to work.

But Reding’s biggest immediate problem was a lack of consensus within the European commission on the contentious draft legislation. This split caused some to question why she was trying to force the issue, if she was unable to get it past this first hurdle. It is highly unusual for the commission to draft a law that will not pass muster among the 27 commissioners.

The dispute was not split along gender lines. Quite the contrary: on Monday, Reding said she had constructed a formidable coalition, with the support of five prominent male commissioners. But four leading female commissioners – from Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark – opposed the proposals.

Reding said she refused to give up on the issue, and the topic would be returned to the commission next month.

The European parliament is to vote on Thursday on Mensch’s appointment to the ECB, after the chamber’s influential economic and monetary affairs committee rejected the German-style inflation hawk on Monday on gender grounds.

Van Rompuy told the parliament on Tuesday that female under-representation in top posts was “blatant”, and that he was working to remedy it, but still believed Mersch should get the job.

Mersch’s appointment would delay any real chance of redressing the total imbalance in the ECB executive until 2018.

Sharon Bowles, the Lib Dem MEP and economic committee chair who is running for governor of the Bank of England, said: “What we heard today is no different to all the promises on equality that have universally failed: we need more than just talk and promises. We are objecting to the EU’s most powerful institution being run by only men for the next six years.”

Existing examples

France, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Italy have introduced quota laws, as have non-EU nations Iceland and Norway, which has had a quota system since 2006 that requires at least 40% of either sex on all listed company boards. Firms were given only two years to comply. The Spanish law, passed in 2007, obliges quoted firms with more than 250 employees to aim for a 40%-female minimum on their boards by 2015. France passed its law in 2011, forcing large companies to reserve at least 40 % of boardroom positions for women by 2017. It applies to 2,000 companies in France that are either listed, have more than 500 employees or revenues over €50m.

Royal Mail chief backs staff quotas for women

Category : Business

I’m ready to lead the campaign, says Moya Green, as Vince Cable garners opposition to EU boardroom rules

Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene has become one of the most senior figures in corporate Britain to publicly back recruitment quotas for women in the workplace – including the boardroom.

Greene told an audience at the Communications Workers Union’s women’s section in Peterborough she was prepared to publicly champion quotas, despite many of her peers in business having lobbied furiously to block such a move from Brussels.

“There is something about the UK – for all its egalitarianism, women are not represented as they should be in society or companies,” Greene said. Despite modest moves in the right direction, expectations for women in the workplace were changing at a “glacial pace”.

She told the union delegates: “If you want quotas, I am open to leading that discussion.” Greene, a Canadian, said she had been struck by the lack of women generally at Royal Mail, but most particularly in leadership positions, during her two years as chief executive. At Canada Post, where she previously worked, Greene said women made up 43% of the workforce and 50% of the senior management team.

She noted that Royal Mail was far from an isolated example of a male-dominated British workforce. The postal group’s chief executive saidshe had encountered similar imbalances in management roles elsewhere in corporate Britain.

Greene’s remarks come as the business secretary, Vince Cable, has been leading the fight against attempts to introduce a 40% female quota on stock market-listed company boards across the European Union. With counterparts from nine countries, including Malta, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Estonia, he has written to European Commission president José Manuel Barroso registering opposition.

“We agree with the commission’s stance that there are still too few women on the boards of publicly listed companies,” said the letter. “[But] we reiterate that any targeted measures in this area should be devised and implemented at national level.”

Lord Davies of Abersoch was commissioned by UK government to look at ways to redress boardroom gender bias. His report last year did not recommend quotas, which he has repeatedly described as “a mistake”. He advocates a target of 25% female representation on FTSE 100 boards by 2015, relying on self-regulation to get there.

Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “Continuing with the current approach means excluding another generation of women from the top table of business. The time has come to take radical action.

“All the evidence shows positive action through the use of quotas is the only sure fire way to ensure more women reach the boardroom. Wishful thinking and encouraging words are not going to bring about the step change we urgently need.”

Greene told the women delegates that although the recruitment industry is overwhelmingly female, the lists they send for jobs are predominantly male. “I’ve sent back the lists and have told others to do the same – it’s almost a campaign.” She recalled having to do the same thing in her previous job. “At Canada Post I had to say we wouldn’t accept male, white lists.”

In response to questions, she conceded that more part-time work was required “for the flexibility that this company needs”. But she did not agree that the view that all women with children could do was part time work. Recalling her own experience as a single parent bringing up a daughter, she said: “We need to find ways to get women to work full-time with children.”

Greene said her enthusiasm for quotas stemmed from seeing what they achieved during her time working in the Canadian civil service. She recalled how, when starting out on her own career in the federal civil service of Canada, no woman taking a senior role could be married. “We made progress in the civil service when we had quotas. I am not personally against quotas at all. Unless you have quotas and live by them, you won’t see change in this company or the country.”

Study: Connecticut Women Less Likely to Violate Cellphone Ban

Category : World News

A recent report shows that Connecticut’s male drivers are more likely to use cellphones behind the wheel than women are.

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Media Monkey’s Diary: Daily Mail corrections, HSBC ads and Roger Alton

Category : Business

✒Summertime, sort of, and the living is easy for the Daily Mail’s anonymous readers’ editor. Last week (Saturday to Friday), the workload of the masked man or woman consisted of a single 40-word correction, while the gaffe-collecting US blog Regret the Error counted just five in the whole of June. The site also underlines the marked downward trend by reproducing another blog’s splendidly anoraky graph covering all corrections since Paul Dacre announced the column’s introduction during his Leveson inquiry turn. Quoting the Mail’s own figure of about 80,000 words in each issue, Regret the Error’s Craig Silverman expresses cynical disbelief in an average score of one mistake a week, but Monkey prefers to think the readers’ editor’s mere existence has forced hacks to raise their game. Awkward for such a generous view, however, is the same blog’s graph for the Mail on Sunday: in some weeks, it admits to making more errors in its single issue than the daily title does in six.

✒Adverts we’re unlikely to see again on TV, no 67: any of those Michael Gambon-voiced HSBC ads (particularly the one with the little Japanese girl learning all about how to hide money) proclaiming it “the world’s local bank”. In the light of HSBC’s condemnation last week by a US Senate committee for allowing “drug kingpins and rogue nations” to launder their profits, the long-running campaign’s message of tolerant sensitivity to local customs (“understanding people and their values”, as the blurb to one put it) would now have an embarrassing subtext. But do try to find them on YouTube.

✒A Fleet Street era may be ending: Roger Alton – veteran executive editor of the Times, unofficial chief public defender of the beleaguered Murdoch titles and former editor of the Observer and Independent – was heard the other day telling a colleague: “Don’t worry, I won’t fucking well be here in January to boss you around.” Alarmed, Monkey’s snout asked the living legend if retirement is really on the cards. “I may well be having to leave as I will be 65 [in December],” he said, “but I haven’t had any conversations with anybody here yet.” So there’s a chance he may stay on? “Well, it’s nonsense to say I’ll definitely be going.”

✒Why has Nicola Fairbrother won a place in the BBC’s squad of Olympics presenters and pundits? As an explanation, the top line of her biog on the Beeb’s website is straightforward and unusually candid: all you need to know is that she is “one of Great Britain’s strongest women fighters”. Peer at the small print and there’s a buried mention of feats in judo, but the image lingers of the likes of Clare Balding and Barry Davies trembling as they make room for her on the sofa.

✒Dancing NHS nurses are famously to appear in Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony pageant on Friday, but it’s too little known that they’ll all be female, while the doctors are all male; so a show broadcast by the BBC will have a sexist undercurrent it would never contemplate in a drama or comedy over which it has editorial control – reportedly because a traditional division of gender roles is deemed easier for TV viewers to understand. But which viewers? Not those in the US, which aired ER (with its many female doctors and male nurses) for 15 years, or in the countless countries that bought the hospital drama.

Pensions gender gap ‘narrowing’

Category : World News

A survey has found that the gap between men’s and women’s pensions is shrinking because male incomes are falling.

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Letters: Women at the top

Category : Business

In a recent report, we found women faced two key obstacles in progressing to leadership roles (Male elite bars women’s way to top, 28 May): balancing work and family demands; and being seen as a real contender in a male-dominated area. There is clear evidence that having a critical mass of women on boards improves financial performance. It’s not just the right thing to do but it also makes business sense. The sooner we apply commonsense to recruitment, the better.
Gillian Lees
Head of corporate governance, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

• I question the existence of a “male-dominated corporate elite”, yet should it be real, I don’t believe top-down EU quotas are the best way to counter it. Vince Cable is right to block patronising proposals setting aside 40% of board seats for women. The voluntary approach is working and I hope the EU will recognise this. Otherwise, a generation of women may well end up on boards as window-dressing rather than on the basis of merit.
Marina Yannakoudakis MEP
Conservative spokesman for women’s rights in the European parliament

Male boards ‘recruit other men’

Category : Business, World News

Male-dominated boards hiring directors who are similar to them is holding back the appointment of women to senior roles, a report says.

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