Vince Cable
Vince Cable said it is a "disgrace" that Glencore Xstrata is the last FTSE 100 company without a woman on its board of directors Reuters

British commodities giant Glencore Xstrata plans to appoint a woman to its board by the end of 2014 after Business Secretary Vince Cable branded the firm "a disgrace" for being the last on the FTSE 100 without a female director.

Tony Hayward, chairman of Glencore Xstrata, said it is an "important priority" to appoint a woman to the board by the end of the year.

There has been an increasing focus on the under-representation of women in senior roles in the UK corporate world.

A government review led by Labour peer Lord Davies set the target of reaching 25% of board members on FTSE 100 firms being female by 2015.

"It is a bit of a disgrace, to be frank, that [Glencore Xstrata] is the last company out of the top 100 that hasn't been able to find a suitably qualified woman," Cable told The Women's Hour on BBC Radio 4.

"When we started this whole process of trying to get British boards more representative of the population we had 21 companies without a woman on the board. We're now down to this last one."

Cable said he had put pressure on Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive of Glencore Xstrata, a year ago about not having women on the board. Glasenberg reassured him that the company was working on it.

"It is disappointing and it spoils what is basically a very, very good story because since we launched this campaign two or three years ago we've got up from I think 12% of women on the boards of companies now up to over 20%," said Cable.

"The point we're trying to get across is that it's actually in the interests of companies themselves to have properly representative boards and that means having significantly more women. It also means having other minorities too. There are very few black faces on the boards of British companies.

"All the evidence we have is that companies that are diverse and represent the public at large do better. It's not a question of political correctness or meeting targets."