Number of female directors rockets over the past five years

news release


 Number of female directors rockets over the past five years

Larger firms show highest percentage increase
Half of all small companies now have a female director

Nottingham, 17 December 2012 – Larger companies are narrowing the gap with small and medium sized firms (SMEs) in terms of the number of companies that have a female director, according to Experian’s BusinessIQ analysis.

In a new study of over 2.7 million businesses that looked at the number of male and female directors of UK businesses between 2007 and 2012, Experian reveals that the overall number of directors has risen (5 million in 2012 compared to 4.3 million in 2007), with the increase in female directors since 2007 outstripping men: 24 per cent compared to 15 per cent. Taking into account business failures and new start-ups during the period, as well as changes to directorships of surviving businesses, 240,000 more female directors have been appointed overall.
When Experian examined the figures by company size, it found that, although small companies (3-10 employees) are still more likely than large companies (250+ employees) to have female directors, the gap between the two is narrowing. In 2007, 48 per cent of small companies had at least one female director compared to 33 per cent of large companies. In 2012, 50 per cent of small companies had female directors compared to 40 per cent of large companies.

Start-up businesses have also been important in bolstering the number of female directors employed over the period.  A third of the 1.4 million businesses that started up since 2007 have one or more female directors, adding 523,000 female directors overall, replacing the 297,000 female directors whose companies closed between 2007 and 2012.

Although the increase in female directors is positive news for women looking to break the glass ceiling, Experian found little change over the last five years in the types of profession dominated by females. In 2007, hairdressing, primary education and social work were the industries with the biggest percentage of all female boards and this trend has increased further according to data for 2012. At the other end of the scale, over the five year period there were less all-female boards in 2012 in some typically male-dominated professions such as plumbing, installation of electricity and software publishing.

Max Firth, UK Managing Director for Experian’s Business Information Services division, said: “Much of the existing available data about female directors focuses on FTSE companies. We’ve used our extensive database, comprising nearly three million companies and 100 industry sectors, to show a more in-depth picture of the number of female directors across the UK.

“Smaller companies are clearly the driving force for female directors, but our research shows that larger companies’ efforts to increase the number of female directors has made a significant difference over the past five years. And let’s not forget the contribution made by female entrepreneurs, with many starting up their own companies to manage work/life balance and fit with family commitments, without whom the number of female directors would be considerably lower.

“But when it comes to different industry sectors, our data shows that the picture is fairly static. Whilst there are undoubtedly many women who are breaking new ground and overcoming stereotypes, our data shows that amongst the total population of UK companies, the industries with most female directors are pretty much the same as before the recession.”

Comparison of male v female directors 2007-2012

Male V Female Directors table


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The latest analysis has been compiled using some of the most comprehensive business data on the market. This data powers BusinessIQ, a new easy-to-use, integrated online platform that enables credit professionals to accurately and efficiently manage its business customers and all the risks and opportunities associated with them - from acquisition stage and throughout the life cycle of the relationship.  This includes giving firms an early warning system on customers that might be getting into financial difficulty.

Victoria Roe
The PR Network
M: +44 (0)7967 804140

About Experian
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2012 was US$4.5 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 44 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

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