Philip Hampton
Hampton is to replace Mervyn DaviesGetty

The UK government has defended its decision to appoint another male executive to chair the Women on Boards committee. The department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has appointed GlaxoSmithKline chairman Philip Hampton to lead the movement for female business leaders.

After the committee helped FTSE 100 companies achieve the target of 25% female board members under Lord Mervyn Davies, the government appointed Hampton as chairman. This means that both chairs leading the government's main movement for gender equality in the business world are male.

"Sir Philip [brings] credibility, influence and a proven track record to this industry-led review," said corporate governance minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe said after IBTimes UK asked BIS about the appointment. "This is not just an issue for women, and any solution involves talented men and women working together. As was clearly demonstrated by the success of Lord Davies in his work to double female representation in the FTSE 100, men have a key role to play in championing progress and driving change."

Hampton was appointed to help the government get more women in the top of the biggest UK companies. After the Davies review managed to reach the 25% voluntary targets for businesses, the government hiked this to 33% by 2020.

After his appointment, announced by BIS on Sunday (7 February), Hampton appointed non-executive Rolls-Royce director Helen Alexander as his deputy chair. The former Sainsbury's chairman also set out his targets for the coming years.

"I want to now turn my attention to the FTSE 350, he said. "I will focus on improving representation in the executive layer of companies, as well as maintaining the momentum on boards. This means looking at the talent pipeline for female executives and emerging non-executive directors to ensure we create opportunities and the right conditions for women to succeed."

The government had already said that it wants to get more female executive directors on boards. Women and equality minister Nicky Morgan urged for "much more progress at the executive layer where we know progress has been slowest to date".