Women on Boards: Report Calls for Strengthening of Executive Search Firm Code

2 mins

Posted on 06 Mar 2014

A report into the effectiveness of a voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms has made a number of recommendations to strengthen the code.

The Code was created to ensure executive search firms support FTSE 350 companies to create more diverse boards and although a progress has been made, further steps are considered necessary if the target of 25% by 2015 set by Lord Davies is to be achieved.

The report recommends:

  • Search firms should include at least one “strongly recommended” woman on the shortlist submitted for all board positions; 
  • The Equalities and Human Rights Commission should create guidance on the legality of women only shortlists; 
  • Search firms should look to go beyond the minimum standards set out in the voluntary code and should share with the Government their statistics on the male/female candidate ratio during the various recruitment stages; 
  • Search firms should be more overt on their websites, in marketing literature and when talking to clients about their commitment to the code;
  • Search forms should include a clear statement in all search contracts that they will comply with all aspects of the voluntary code and explain if unable to do so; 
  • A database of women with the skills to take a FTSE 350 board position should be created;
  • The code should be published on the BIS website to raise awareness of it, together with details of the signatories and case studies on how the code is working in practice; 
  • The code should also be referenced on the Financial Reporting Council’s’ website and within the FRC Guidance on Board Effectiveness when it is updated.

At the end of 2013, 68 executive search firms had become signatories to the code.

The report - Women on Boards: voluntary code for executive search firms - taking the next step - can be viewed here.

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