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By Simon Clark

Finance is the most lopsided industry in the MSCI World Index when it comes to appointing women as directors and promoting them to management positions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Chart of the Day shows how banks, insurers and asset managers in the index of stocks in 24 markets have a disproportionately low percentage of female board members compared with employees, 51 percent of whom are women. Finance also scores lowest in matching the percentages of women workers and managers. The materials sector, including mining companies, does best in balancing its female workforce and directors, though in that industry just 18 percent of employees are women.

It's ``reprehensible for an industry to have a high level of women employees and a low level of women in management and on the board,'' said Joe Keefe, chief executive officer of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Pax World Management LLC and chairman of the nonprofit Women Thrive Worldwide. ``It is evidence of failure to hire, to promote, to retain and to mentor the women.''

Women are frequently overlooked for promotion and receive less mentoring and sponsorship than male peers, according to a report last year by Mervyn Davies, former CEO of Standard Chartered Plc in London. The relatively low number of successful female role models often compounds stereotypes, according to the report, commissioned by the U.K. government.

Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management Ltd., in London and founder of the 30 Percent Club, which seeks to boost women's numbers on boards, called the disparity between women employees and directors ``rather patronizing.''

The chart is based on the 455 companies in the index of more than 1,600 stocks that disclose information on the number of women employees and directors. The data are part of Bloomberg's environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics.

--With assistance from Barbara Evans in London.

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-0- Jan/31/2012 19:58 GMT

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