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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: women rise at FTSE firms, plus more positive news

Posted 26th February 2021 • Written by •

The number of FTSE female directors was found to have doubled in five years, a bird missing for nearly two centuries reappeared and plans for a major UK gas power plant were shelved, plus the week’s other positive news

Women are rising at FTSE firms, a report found

Efforts to boost female leadership in the boardroom are yielding results in the UK. A report released this week found that the number of female FTSE100 directors has doubled in five years. Women now hold one in three boardroom roles at the UK’s top 350 firms.

The figures are in line with targets set by the government-backed Hampton-Alexander review. It launched in 2016 with the aim of encouraging firms to promote women into leadership roles. The review wanted 33 per cent of board positions at FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 firms to be held by women by 2021. Data from January suggests women held 34.3 per cent of board roles across the FTSE 350.

Though more needs to be done at many firms to improve female representation, some companies, namely Diagio and Severn Trent, are exceeding gender equality targets. Both have more women on their board than men.

England and Scotland published roadmaps out of lockdown

Successive coronavirus lockdowns have exerted a heavy toll on the UK’s mental health, with one on six people saying they are struggling to stay positive. There was, then, a wary sense of relief – albeit tinged with anxiety – when the UK government and devolved Scottish parliament launched their roadmaps out of restrictions this week.

Downing Street said that limits on social contact could end in England from 21 June. The Scottish parliament set a more cautious timetable, but said that non-essential retail, pubs and restaurants would likely reopen from 26 April, offering a glimmer of hope for business owners.

Both timetables are contingent on the vaccines maintaining efficacy against the disease and the vaccine rollout continuing at the current pace.

Last week, Positive News asked a number of experts for their tips on staying resilient during lockdown. This is what they recommended.

Plans for Europe’s largest gas plant were scrapped

Climate groups scored a victory this week as plans to build Europe’s largest gas plant were axed. Energy giant Drax was due to construct the facility in Yorkshire, but abandoned the project after campaigners argued it was incompatible with the UK’s climate targets.

The firm pulled the plug despite climate groups losing a legal challenge against the UK government in January over its approval of the plant.

The positive news was tempered by a report by the thinktank Carbon Tracker. It revealed how plans to build 17 gas power plants in the UK (including the now abandoned Drax one) would undermine climate targets and push up energy bills. Carbon Tracker said clean energy could offer the same level of grid services as gas, at lower cost.

A bird missing for 180 years was found

One of the world’s most elusive songbirds has been spotted in a Bornean jungle, some 180 years after the last confirmed sighting. The black-browed babbler was presumed extinct by some ornithologists, but the fresh sighting confirms it is alive and singing.

Two local men, Muhammad Suranto and Muhammad Rizky Fauzan, stumbled upon the lone songbird while out in the jungle. They caught and released it after taking photographs, which they sent to birdwatching groups. This week their October sighting was confirmed by experts.

“It feels surreal to know that we have found a species of bird presumed by experts to be extinct,” said Rizky Fauzan. “When we found it, we didn’t expect it to be that special at all – we thought it was just another bird that we simply have never seen before.”

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