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Headhunters have a role to play in helping women break through glass ceiling, according to Gail Kenny, managing director at Gail Kenny Executive Search.

Executive search firms should educate and encourage clients to embrace diversity, believes Kenny.

Her comments follow reports in the Financial Times that the chairmen of Centrica, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC Holdings, J Sainsbury, Aviva and the UK units of KPMG International and Deloitte & Touche are backing an initiative aimed at raising the proportion of women on boards to 30% in the next five years.

Kenny told Recruiter: “It’s not just the board; there is still the element of the old boys’ network, based on who the male directors know, where appointments are made behind closed doors. It is also up to the headhunters to educate and encourage diversity when compiling shortlists.

“In travel I have seen a...

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