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Glencore becomes last FTSE company to appoint a female director
[June 27, 2014]

Glencore becomes last FTSE company to appoint a female director

(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Glencore has appointed a female director after years of political pressure, ending its status as the last bastion of all-male boards in the FTSE 100.

Patrice Merrin, a Canadian former mining executive, has joined the mining and commodities trading group as a non-executive director. She is the only woman on Glencore's eight-strong board.

Helena Morrissey, the City fund manager who campaigns for more women on boards, said Peter Grauer, Glencore's senior independent director, had been trying to recruit a female director for some time and another female appointment could follow soon.

"It wasn't through lack of effort that they have taken this long. Having talked to Peter Grauer, I think they would be keen to have two in quite short order. When you have 25% representation, that is when you have critical mass." Glencore declined to comment on future board appointments.

Mervyn Davies, former trade minister, set a target in 2011 to double female representation on FTSE 100 boards to 25% by next year. At the time, 21 of Britain's top public companies had all-male boards but by March this year Glencore was the last. Merrin's appointment takes female representation on FTSE 100 boards to 21.6%. Nearly all are part-time non-executives rather than full-time executive directors.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, criticised Glencore last month for its failure to appoint a female director. He said he would demand a meeting with the chairman, former BP boss Tony Hayward, after already discussing the subject with Glencore's chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg.

At Glencore's annual meeting a month ago, Hayward said the company wanted to appoint a female director by the end of this year. His predecessor, Simon Murray, said he was cautious about hiring women in case they got pregnant.

Cable said he had now set aside his run-ins with the company. "This is a historic day for the FTSE and for the reforms I've been pushing for to ensure that there is more diversity in the talent running our biggest companies." Lord Davies made his recommendations after the financial crisis highlighted a lack of dissenting voices in boardrooms. Studies show firms with female board members pay more attention to risk and are more financially successful.

Hayward said: "Patrice's in-depth experience of operating across the resources sector will help strengthen the board's ability to work with the opportunities and challenges presented by the global extractive industry." Merrin, 64, worked at the mining group Sherritt for 10 years, becoming chief operating officer before leaving in 2004. She spent two years at Luscar, Canada's biggest thermal coal producer, with a year as chief executive. She was a director of Canadian mining firm Stillwater, after an activist investor made it revamp its board.

Captions: Patrice Merrin brings the proportion of women on FTSE boards to 21% (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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