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All-male boards have disappeared from the UK’s 350 largest listed companies, according to monthly statistics compiled for the 30% Club, which campaigns for gender diversity in senior management of businesses, reports my colleague Jo Partridge.

This is only the second time that all FTSE350 firms have had at least one female board member – although the goal achieved last May only lasted temporarily. Luxury carmaker Aston Martin was the final FTSE-350 firm to retain an all-male board until the start of this month, when it appointed Anne Stevens to its board.

However data compiled by BoardEx showed that 19 out of those 350 companies only have one female board member. Only 70% of the 350 firms have 30% or more female representation – the target promoted by the 30% Club.

The eradication of all-male boards is cause for celebration, said Ann Cairns, global chair of the 30% Club and executive vice-chair of Mastercard, however she warned there is more work to be done to improve diversity.

Time and again research has shown companies with diverse boardrooms and senior leadership outperform their peers. Simply put, diversity is good for business.

Last year’s fleeting experience of their disappearance across the FTSE 350 proves how fragile progress in the UK’s corporate gender diversity remains. And there’s even more work to do to bring female representation up to parity on those boards, let alone boost the numbers of female chairs, CEOs and CFOs.


In football news, Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has become the youngest chairman in English football after his protracted takeover of Sunderland was finally approved by the English Football League on Thursday, writes our north-east football correspondent Louise Taylor.

The 23-year-old Frenchman is the son of the late billionaire Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the former Marseille owner, and he can look forward to a trip the directors’ box at Wembley next month when Sunderland face Tranmere Rovers in the final of the Papa John’s Trophy.

Lee Johnson’s side are seventh in League One, one point below the play-off zone, and their new owner is targeting an eventual return to the Premier League. Louis-Dreyfus said:

I am proud to become a custodian of this esteemed institution but I also recognise the significant responsibility that comes with it.

I am confident that together we can weather the present storm and put solid foundations in place to bring sustainable and long-term success to the club.

Sunderland’s former owner, Stewart Donald, will retain a minority shareholding as will the directors Charlie Methven and the Uruguayan businessman Juan Sartori. Donald said the takeover means Sunderland are now debt free.

New Sunderland chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus watches from the stands.

New Sunderland chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus watches from the stands. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images/Reuters

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