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UK - AER and AESC welcome voluntary code of conduct

26 July 2011

The Association of Executive Recruiters (AER) has welcomed the launch of a Code of Conduct for search and selection firms.

The Code of Conduct for headhunting firms is a result of Lord Davies' review into Women on Boards, which stated that a set of principles for executive search companies would help achieve better gender equality at board level.

The Code has been formulated over the last few months via engagement with leading search and selection firms as well as cooperation with stakeholder groups and bodies, among them the AER.

The Code itself sets out seven key principles of best practice, including defining the client brief to balance experience with relevant skills, setting diversity goals, and giving counsel and support during the search and selection process.

David Winterburn, Chair of the AER, commented "the Lord Davies review has set in process a step change in how both employers and their recruitment partners boost diversity at board level positions. The recommendations in his review mean that executive search firms must practice what we preach by adopting an even more vigorous approach when searching for board-level talent."

 "At our recent meeting in May, we were given the opportunity to feed into the consultation process and I am grateful to the government Equalities Office for listening to our concerns. The Code that has emerged after many months of drafting appears to be suitable for the search and selection community and should not inhibit firms in their search for suitable candidates, but rather support efforts to promote greater diversity."

In his review, Lord Davies also recommended that the UK Corporate Governance Code be revised to require listed companies to establish a policy concerning boardroom diversity. The AER will be submitting a response to this consultation broadly welcoming in this position.

Peter Felix, President of the worldwide professional association for retained executive search firms (AESC) commented, commented "our members are committed to help their clients increase the effectiveness of their boards and acknowledge the value that diversity can bring. Retained search professionals can play an important role in supporting chairmen and nomination committees as they take steps to increase the proportion of women on their boards, in both executive and non-executive roles. We are therefore pleased to be associated with this initiative of the UK government."

"This Voluntary Code of Conduct reflects current best practices implemented in our profession. As part of the wider package of measures set out in the Davies Report, we are confident that it will prove effective and play its part in increasing the diversity and effectiveness of UK boards."

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