GSK announces new CEO to replace Witty

Alas, it seems we are still some years away from simply announcing the appointment of a new CEO rather than focussing on their gender – or in the case of some newspapers, their domestic arrangements. As a case in point, the mainstream media was particularly excited last week by the appointment of a Emma Walmsley who will be replacing Andrew Witty as CEO of the pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Walmsley, currently CEO of GSK’s Consumer Healthcare division, has been appointed GSK CEO Designate and will succeed Andrew Witty as GSK CEO, when he retires on 31 March 2017. Walmsley will join the GSK Board of Directors from 1 January 2017.

She will join just six other female CEOs in the FTSE 100 – Moya Greene at Royal Mail, Alison Cooper at Imperial Brands, Alison Brittain at Whitbread, Liv Garfield at Severn Trent, Véronique Laury at Kingfisher and Carolyn McCall at EasyJet.

The Cranfield Female FTSE Board Report 2016 which was published in July reported that there were six companies with two female executive directors – although this has now reduced to five following the recent announcement from Marks and Spencer that Laura Wade-Gery its executive director, multi-channel was leaving the company. The report found that in total female executive directorships stood at 9.7% in the UK’s top 100 in July and of the 50 new executive director appointments made up till June 2016 only six or 12% went to women.

Improving the representation of female executive directors on boards will be part of the new government-appointed review which has a target of achieving 33% of female on boards overall across both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250. This is being led by Sir Philip Hampton, chair of GSK, and Dame Helen Alexander, chair of UBM.

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