It was announced yesterday that the UK’s biggest manufacturers have reached a notable milestone in the battle to eliminate the corporate glass ceiling – all FTSE 100 manufacturers now have at least one female board member. A similar report last year identified two holdouts – Croda International and Melrose Industries – both of which have now appointed a female to their board.

Conglomerates GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever lead the field in raw numbers terms with five female board apiece, while drinks giant Diageo has the greatest proportion of female board members at 44%.

There’s still plenty to be done though – females only account for one in five (21%) FTSE manufacturer board members, up from 19% last year, and only 36% of this group’s boards are more than a quarter female.

The report also highlights the importance of female leadership in SMEs, which account for 60% of employment in the sector.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, who produced the report, says:

“The message from this report is clear – manufacturers are heading in the right direction, but cannot afford to let up. We are matching other industries for female board representation, but there is no room for complacency. If our sector is to continue to thrive we need to be fishing from the entire talent pool and that means ensuring women have the right skills and opportunities and are represented at every level.

“Many of the leading women in manufacturing are equally clear – quotas are not the answer. They advocate evolution, not revolution, with companies continuing and improving their work to identify and nurture talented women and taking bigger strides in showing that a career in our sector is an attractive, exciting and equal opportunity for all. But, this isn’t just about what we as manufacturers can do. The work starts in the classroom where we must see a boost in the number of young women taking STEM subjects and encouraged to raise their career expectations.”

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