Woman appointed to one of the last four FTSE 350 companies with all-male boards

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Mature men at end of table in conference room, portrait

One of the four remaining FTSE 350 companies with all-male boards has appointed a woman director.

Ferrexpro (FXPO.L), a Ukrainian mining company that has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2007, said on Monday that geologist Fiona MacAulay had joined its board.

In July, the company was one of four large UK-listed companies singled out by a government-supported review of female representation in senior corporate positions.

MacAulay, who served as CEO of Echo Energy (ECHO.L) until December, has more than 30 years of experience in the oil and gas sector, including in several roles with Exxon Mobil (XOM), Hess (HES), and British Gas.

The move by Ferrexpro to appoint MacAulay to the position brings to three the number of FTSE 350 companies with all-male boards, with Northern Ireland-based Kainos Group (KNOS.L) and property companies Daejan Holdings (DJAN.L) and TR Property Investment Trust (TRY.L) being the remaining hold outs.

MacAulay is also chair of Independent Oil & Gas (IOG.L) and was last year appointed to the exploration advisory board of Cairn India, the largest private sector producer of crude oil in India.

"We are delighted to welcome Fiona MacAulay to our Board,” said Ferrexpro chairman Steve Lucas on Monday.

“Fiona has extensive operational experience in emerging markets and we look forward to working with her.”

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The UK government said in 2015 that at least a third of all boardroom positions should be occupied by women by 2020.

Data shows that around a third of board seats in FTSE 100 companies are now occupied by women, suggesting that the largest companies listed in the UK are likely to meet the target.

But those in the mid-cap FTSE 250 are a bit behind, while almost 50 further companies listed in the UK have only one women on their board.

Ferrexpro had a woman serving on its board until April, but the Investment Association, the trade body that represents UK investment managers, has warned that the “one and done” approach was not acceptable.

“Adopting this ‘one and done’ attitude is not good enough, and investors expect companies to up their game and explain clearly how they will set this right going forward,” said Chris Cummings, the CEO of the Investment Association, in July.

Representation on company boards is just one area where female representation is lacking.

A report from the Pipeline consultancy in July found that only 3.7% of FTSE 350 companies had female CEOs, a 4.6% decline from just two years ago.

Just 5% of executive committee positions in these companies are held by women in roles with profit and loss responsibility.

Meanwhile, over half of FTSE 350 companies have no women on their executive committees in a profit and loss role at all.