POLITICS

Vince Cable Says Employ More Women, Despite Awkwardly Male Ministerial Team

09/10/2014 12:14 BST | Updated 10/10/2014 12:59 BST
ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty Images
British Business Secretary Vince Cable (R) applauds as Jo Swinson (L), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, leaves the stage after speaking at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Brighton on September 26, 2012. The Liberal Democrats' conference in Brighton is seeking to reinvigorate a party bruised by rock-bottom approval ratings after a series of concessions to senior coalition partners the Conservatives. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

Vince Cable has urged companies not to stop in their efforts to get more women into their boardrooms, as a key target next year draws near.

Women's representation on boards has increased to 22.8% - up from 20.7% in March - but still short of the required 25%. However, nineteen more boards in the FTSE 250 have appointed at least one woman since March 2014 but 29 all-male boards remain.

The Lib Dem business secretary wrote to the chairmen of these 29 firms, saying: "Although our target is in sight, we must keep up the momentum. All companies with fewer than 25% of women on their board need to take firm action now to increase female representation."

"Outstanding progress has been made, but we need to see the pace increase within both FTSE 100 and 250 companies to reach our target by 2015. Companies need to harness all available talent - better balanced boards are vital to securing the future competitiveness of UK."

Critics may point out though that Cable isn't exactly leading by example, with his own ministerial team failing to hit the 25% target.

vince cable swinson

Of the nine ministers at the Department for Business, just two are women, which equates to 22.2%, just below the female representation in British boardrooms.

By contrast, the Business department's board members have already exceeded the 25% target, with seven of the 16 members being female (43.75%).

vince cable swinson

In Cable's defence, the Prime Minister would be ultimately responsible for appointing the members of his ministerial team. The Huffington Post UK has previously asked Cable about the under-representation of women in the top tiers of government, with the business secretary saying that the prime minister needed to appoint more to his cabinet.

Asked in March if Cameron should draft more women into Cabinet, Cable said: "The simple answer is yes."

Cable's message to the prime minister provoked bemusement on Twitter however as all four of the Lib Dem cabinet members have consistently been men since the start of the coalition. Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt, who ran for the deputy leadership, told HuffPost UK that the party was "desperately" trying to appeal to women.

Blogging on the Huffington Post UK, culture secretary Maria Miller wrote: "The simple truth is we need fewer than 50 more women on FTSE 100 Boards to reach the 2015 target, but crucially we need to see many more women supported to climb up the ladder behind them. There is a prize to be had by those Boards and those businesses, who get this right."