Women increase their presence on the boards of Ibex 35 companies

Females now account for 16.6 percent of the 470 directors

The number of women on the boards of directors of the constituent companies of the blue-chip Ibex 35 index have increased by three percentage points over the past 15 months to 16.6 percent of the total of 470, according to a study carried out by the IESE Business School and the communication consultancy firm Inforpress.

The percentage of women on Ibex 35 company boards is now in line with the average in Europe. Spain’s Gender Equality law calls for this percentage to be at least 40 percent by 2015.

The number of Ibex 35 female directors at the end of last year was 76. Since then, Sheila Bair has joined the board of leading Spanish bank Santander, while María Fernanda Mejía has been appointed to the board of International Airlines Group (IAG), the holding company for the merger of Iberia and British Airlines.

Of the 37 most recent appointments to Ibex 35 company boards, 11 have been women. During that period the IBEX 35 companies have slimmed down the combined size of their boards to 470 members. At toll-road operator Abertis, for example, five male directors have left and two women have been named to its board.

There are still a number of Ibex 35 companies with no female representation on their boards, such as utility Gas Natural Fenosa, builder Sacyr Vallehermoso and engineering firm Técnicas Reunidas. Eight companies (builders ACS and Ferrovial, the banks Bankinter and Bankia, wind-turbine manufacturer Gamesa, media firm Mediaset and telecoms giant Telefónica) have only one female director. Some 75 percent of board members are independent.

The number of women directors with executive duties can be counted on one hand: María Dolores Dancausa at Bankinter, Ana Patricia Botín at Santander and Vanisha Mittal at ArcelorMittal.

The European Union vice president and commissioner for justice, Viviane Reding has proposed that obligatory quotas of women of boards of directors be imposed within the EU. The number of female representatives in France and Norway increased after such quotas were put in place. France has gone from 10 percent to 25 percent since 2011, while Norway has 45 percent.

IESE and Inforpress argue that the fact Germany has imposed a quota of 30 percent by 2016 could pave the way for Reding’s proposal to be approved.

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