An exploration of the factors influencing the appointment of women to publicly quoted company boards

Barnes, Claire (2018) An exploration of the factors influencing the appointment of women to publicly quoted company boards. (DoBPsych thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis is comprised of three papers: a systematic review of the factors influencing the appointment of women to public company boards, an empirical study of the factors that influence these appointments and a process review. Efforts made in recent decades to increase women’s representation at the top of business have shown slow and inconsistent progress. The first paper examines existing literature about female board appointments. Findings show that countries have introduced regulation to encourage organisations to appoint women to their boards with differing degrees of success. Enforced quotas have been the most successful way of increasing progress, while authors propose that selection processes need improvement. The paper also offers some albeit mixed evidence that increasing the number of women on boards can improve organisational performance. The empirical paper builds on work by the Female FTSE Board Report (Vinnicombe, Doldor & Sealy, 2018) which highlighted the increase in women appointed to FTSE boards as non-executive directors and the lack of progress in increasing the number of women as executive directors. It makes a unique contribution by providing a detailed analysis of the views and experiences of appointing female directors of 12 top executives from some of the UK’s most prominent companies. Analysis identified four main themes: diversity, barriers, facilitators and conditions for change. Findings showed that while the idea of women on boards as non-executive directors is well embedded and efforts have been made to select women to these posts, there are many remaining barriers to increasing the numbers of women in executive director roles. External focus now needs to be applied to galvanise efforts in public companies to develop their female talent pipeline and increase the number of executive directors on their boards. The process review provides reflections on the doctoral research process.

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