Glencore, last all-male FTSE 100 board, appoints Patrice Merrin as director

Guardian Web |

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 trader as an independent non-executive director.Lord Davies, the former trade minister, set a target in 2011 for 25\% female representation at FTSE 100 companies 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.Vince Cable, the business secretary, criticised Glencore last month for its persistent failure to appoint a female director. He said he would demand a meeting with the company's 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. Cable said Glencore had three years to find a suitable woman to join the board.Announcing Merrin's arrival, Hayward said: "On behalf of the board I am delighted to announce the appointment of Patrice Merrin. 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. Her record of non-executive director appointments, activist involvement and industry advisory board service is also an excellent complementary skill set to our board. "Merrin, 64, worked at the mining group Sherritt for 10 years and rose to be chief operating officer before leaving in 2004. She then spent two years at Luscar, Canada's biggest thermal coal producer, which she ran as chief executive for a year. She became a director of another Canadian miner, Stillwater, when an activist investor forced the company to revamp its board.Davies made his recommendations after the financial crisis highlighted a lack of dissenting voices in boardrooms, which are made up largely of white, middle-class businessmen. Studies have shown that companies with female board members pay more attention to risk and are more financially successful.

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