Less than eight per cent of board members at listed companies in the West Midlands are women – and even fewer are holding the top jobs.
Birmingham Post research shows that only 25 of the 364 directors of companies from the region listed on the London Stock Exchange are female – and only seven of the 199 executive directors.
The 7.4 per cent figure is an improvement on two years ago, when only 5.9 per cent were women, but the majority of boards in the region remain an all-male affair.
And the West Midlands is still lagging behind, as women make up 14.2 per cent of FTSE 100 directors.
Of the 49 listed companies, only one has a female chief executive – Elizabeth Gooch from Stafford-based listed software firm eg solutions.
She admitted she was surprised at being the only female chief executive among the listed firms, but does not believe any action should be taken to encourage more women into business.
She said: “I feel somewhat shocked. It is incredible that in this day and age I am the only female CEO of a listed company in the West Midlands.
“However, my general view is that anything that is done to encourage more women into business is wrong. It shouldn’t be about whether you are male or female, and we shouldn’t single anyone out.
“When I started I would have estimated that one in 10 executives were women and that doesn’t seem to have changed. If you sit in first class it still seems that only one in every 10 people are women, even today.
“The City of London is a very male-dominated place.”
In all, only 21 of the 49 listed companies in the West Midlands had women on their boards.
However, local business leaders argue that progress is being made in improving the gender spread of local management teams.
Katie Teasdale, head of policy at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, said: “A lot of FTSE companies already set targets for increasing female representation on their boards.
“This is accelerating although perhaps not as quickly as we would like to see.
“However, the most important thing for companies is to make sure there are opportunities for women to develop talents to enable them to get to the top.
“The chamber actively supports diversity but sees that this is best done in a voluntary way with businesses working collaboratively. Statistics demonstrate that businesses are better off and more successful with a balanced gender board.”
In February, Lord Davies recommended in his Women on Boards report that the FTSE 100 should be aiming for a minimum of 25 per cent female board representation by 2015.
He also called on chairmen to announce their goals and said companies should disclose the number of women sitting on their boards and working in an organisation.
Dozens of FTSE 100 companies have signed up to increase the number of women on their boards, including Midland firms GKN and Wolseley, which have pledged to reach 25 per cent by 2015.
While women make up 14.2 per cent of FTSE 100 directors, they account for just 8.9 per cent of decision-makers of FTSE 250 firms. There are 14 all male boards within the FTSE 100 – down from 21 in 2010.