Glencore Xstrata intends to appoint a female board member by the end of the year, an shake its reputation for being the only FTSE 100 company with male-only directors.

“Glencore values and promotes diversity across its business. The appointment of a female board member would be a key sign of that commitment to this area. It's an important priority of the board to appoint a female director before the end of this year,” said the firm's new chairman, former BP boss Tony Hayward who was named for the role earlier this month.

This comes after sharp criticism from Business Secretary Vince Cable, who said “the vast majority of Britain's top companies have got the message that a diverse top management team is good for business – it is simply not credible that one company cannot find any suitable women.”

“The company has had over three years to address this issue. It has been saying for over a year that they were in the process of appointing a woman to the board, and I specifically met the chief executive to discuss its performance on this issue. It has consistently failed to act.”

The London-based fund adviser Pensions Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) has also criticised the announcement. “If Glencore were to appoint a single woman on the board by the end of the year, that would still leave them as the laggard of the FTSE 100. The question of diversity has gone past one representative on the board,” a PIRC spokesperson said.

“Glencore should foreshadow to the market now what the 2015 targets are for board diversity, and they need to get a bit of a hurry up.”

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  1. Look at the composition of the board of directors for Glencore in terms of their executive experience in resources and international finance. In their defense, there probably are not a long list of candidates that have similar backgrounds that are female and are willing to sign on. Before you attack my statement, provide a few examples of specific people who would fit in with that group.

  2. Patricia Lenkov, who chairs the executive search practice at N2growth, recently spoke at the Global Women’s Leadership Summit.
    Patricia’s top 10 reasons why diversity is good for the boardroom:
    1. It reflects the real world – something every company should be sensitive to.
    2. Healthy debate can lead to better decisions.
    3. Divergent backgrounds mean tackling the same idea in differing ways.
    4. Great ideas come from disruption of the status quo.
    5. Your clients and customers are diverse.
    6. This can make your company knowledgeable and sensitive to a wider variety of groups.
    7. Counsel from a variety of authorities is sensible.
    8. Setting an example at the top will hopefully have a trickle-down effect within the organization.
    9. Improved reputation and brand.
    10. A variety of backgrounds can make the company more adaptable to its ever changing environment.

    There are many women out there with ample qualifications, experience and competencies to bring any company forward.
    Glencore has not always preformed at the optimal return on its investment. Glencore needs to evolve.
    Leadership and Management is not just qualification or experiential based.
    I am sure that any company would not appoint someone based on gender, if it was going to hurt the company. Diversity on boards does add value to the bottom line….

  3. Such clever commentators. Ivan Glasenberg is a brilliant guy and so are the majority of his team. He is certainly smart enough to see the advantage of having women in his team. Chauvinism is not one of the reasons they are not there. I have known a few really good female mining engineers but the percentage of women in that career is very small. Be reasonable, sweat and dust are not at the forefront of a woman’s mind when choosing a career. Business women? Yes that is another story.

  4. Honestly, I do not believe in quotas and IMHO, no company should suffer due to corporate dogma. However, the fact that Glencore hasn’t found a suitable candidate for their Board can also be linked to the recruiting criteria, the recruiting process, and to the recruiters themselves, which summarized could be giving the right attention to the task.

    I am sure, Glencore will find the right person for the right job.


  5. Resistance to change. To be globally competitive change is imperative and there are a lot of women that are wiling to sweat to ensure that a company is beyond profitable.

    Our big business society problem is boards and decision making teams that lack diversity in their composition thus for now we are steered by traditionalists that do not realize that transformation is key.

  6. I agree with all of the comments regarding not choosing a candidate for the sake of diversity. There are however, many women who joined the mining industry 30-35 years ago who should be considered. Women bring different perspectives to the mining business that, when considered, will improve the safety, environmental and financial success. Having said that, while is it helpful to have mining experience for a board position at Glencore, it is not necessary. Also, retirees are great candidates as they have the time and it is not a full time position.

  7. “No suitable women” sounds great for Xstrada and terrible for women. But Xstrada never said that. They just have no women on the board.

    You can simply re-word it “Glencore Xstrada fails to attract female board member”. The reason they have no women on their board is unknown. Female board members have fought 30-35 years on an uneven playing field, which has now been levelled. If they find themselves in high demand then I think that is fantastic, and well earned.

    But for Xstrada it is a terrible look. Forget quotas, those are for grads. I bet if they hire a geologist for the board they get the best one they can find, with the longest list of credentials, even if they plan to completely ignore them. The board are to some degree figureheads and say a lot about the internals of the company. You are never going to know the first names of their other staff.

    Their all male board says “old fasioned and unprofessional” even if that is not the case at all. Its probably not a strong position to attract female board members who can pick and choose. Nor will they attract the pick of younger people (not just women) to the company if they pick up a stigma, deserved or accidental.

    I am a 6’4″ white male. If it helped me get a job I would not take the role. Sexism and the other isms are just unprofessional conduct. Even if one form of unprofessional conduct helps me, you can bet its not the only form of unprofessional conduct they have.

  8. A recent study (done in Canada) reached the conclusion that there are still biases against women in the business and financial sectors in terms of female executives and the pay-scale for females compared to their male colleges. I cannot find the recent story but here is a related story from around the same time related to several high profile women being forced out of executive positions:

    As a non-Caucasian geologist of an age where in my lifetime it was not advised to waste my time even going to university to some feeling of social equality. My going through the education and early career hoops, I can tell you there are still explicit instances of discrimination, that you know you just have to suck up. And besides those, there is just a completely different outlook on life and life experience. At the end of the day, some of the ignorant people I worked with as an intern are now managers and carry their bias into the hiring process.

    I wrote an article for Hydro magazine last year regarding females in technical roles (July-August)

    So if the technical people and the financial people are both reporting a bias in gender, what is the argument? Either you believe it, or you don’t. If you don’t, simple anecdotal arguments are insufficient to support that position. One can blame the liberal media for over representing these issues, or some other motives. But I would say that the numbers indicate that we still have a way to go to reach an even playing field.

    I do not see this as a business or mining problem. It is a social problem. I personally believe that men and women see the world in different ways and bring different things to the table. I also think some men (especially in older generations) have a hard time accepting that certain demographics are capable and need to be accommodated. I also believe it is worth it.