Will Glencore Plc have woman director on board by end of the year?

Published: 23/05/2014

Glencore Plc disclosed on Tuesday at its AGM in Zurich that it will appoint a female to its board by the end of the year, a move that will end its stance as the only FTSE100 company with an all-male board.

Positive but somehow a bit late and people now expect more than one female board member for companies of that size and importance. By year-end – that’s another 6 months…. Rather lame especially when you are claiming that you were working on it already last year. What is taking so long? Why can’t you find a suitable candidate? Plenty of amazing women out there.

Doesn’t instil confidence that diversity has the importance you are claiming. I know you have women in senior management throughout the world but somehow that isn’t enough.

Frankly after outrageous public statements by Simon Murray, Glencore’s former chairman, I will believe there will be a female director when I see it. Simon Murray said in 2011 that he wasn’t keen on hiring women because “I know they’re going to get pregnant and they’re going to go off for nine months”. He also said he believed that women were “not so ambitious in business as men” because “quite often they like bringing up their children and all sorts of other things”.

“All sort of other things” what does that mean anyway? How condescending, men also do all sort of other things.

All PR disasters like telling us since 2012 that you will appoint a woman to the board then not deliver.

The problem with that appointment in my view is that it isn’t just a female board director anymore, a classic board role as it should be with the challenge of being the only woman. It will be a difficult role with additional challenges. You will be in the limelight anyway because it’s a FTSE100 company but now also because you will be the woman the world has waited 3 years for. You are almost set out to fail before starting. For you to have the power and ability to put your mark and change things in such an old boys club by yourself is a tough job, it would have been easier in tandem and would have signalled to your investors and shareholders and the world at large that you are taking the issue seriously and believe in it. This sounds like “ok we give in because we have to but aren’t 100% behind the idea”. Not an easy playing field. I wish the appointed candidate a very thick duck skin and resolve of steel as well as fine tuned diplomatic skills. I hope she will be surrounded by mentors and help to navigate this maze so as to succeed with flying colours.

We can’t have her fail just to corroborate what these old-fashioned gentlemen have been saying all along “that woman have no place in the board room”.

By now maybe ladies are turning this appointment down, an amazing challenge and opportunity but clearly do you want to work for a team that has taken over two years to turn this around? Doesn’t signal anything positive. Whoever the appointed headhunter for this assignment is, they probably aren’t having an easy ride.

Glencore waited so long that rather than being able to surprise the market with the good news (& gain plus points) and be able to work on this assignment discreetly they are exposed to pressure and everyone looking closely at what they are doing. This is certainly not helping.

Click here to read the mood of some Glencore’s employees. Note: hardly anyone who works there recommends the company to someone else.

Articles that have appeared on that topic in the press this week

Vince Cable blasts Glencore Xstrata for lack of women on board, The Guardian

Glencore Xstrata Has Taken 27 Months To Not Find Its First Female Director, Management Today

Cable attacks Glencore’s failure to find a female director, The Telegraph

Glencore Xstrata to Appoint Female Board Member After Vince Cable Brands Firm ‘Disgrace’, International Business Time

Glencore Xstrata to appoint female director, Reuters