FTSE 350 falling short on progress to gender-balanced boards

The latest update from the Hampton-Alexander review reports 40% of all board appointments need to be female in the next two years if FTSE 350 firms are to achieve the voluntary 33% target.

Image of board meeting with rear view of man leading meeting
Figures from the Hampton-Alexander review to mark the mid-point of the government-backed initiative show more women than ever before are on the boards of the UK’s largest companies.However, employers – especially those among the FTSE 350 – still have some way to go to meet their target of 33% women by 2020.

Patchy progress on gender balanced board in largest companies

Set up in 2016 to ensure talented women at the top of business are recognised, promoted and rewarded, the Hampton-Alexander review’s data shows women now comprise 29% of FTSE 100 board positions – up from 12.5% in 2011. With the review estimating that FTSE 100 companies are on track to achieve the 33% goal by 2020, its analysis suggests FTSE 350 companies are falling short.Although the number of women on boards has increased to 25.5% in FTSE 350 companies, around 40% of all appointments need to go to women in the next two years among this group if it is to achieve the review's voluntary 33% target. 

More to be done on to increase visibility of women 

Commenting on the latest figures from the Hampton-Alexander Review, Claire McCartney, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:“While the figures show positive, steady progress over the last few years, particularly within the FTSE 100, the number of women on boards within the FTSE 350 is still worryingly low. There is a lot more work to be done between now and 2020 if those organisations are going to meet the targets that have been set.“However, while having women at board level in organisations can only be a positive and we welcome the focus that the Hampton-Alexander Review has placed on promoting gender diversity at board level, we need to also be placing much more focus on women in active, observable leadership positions.”

Which FTSE 350 companies still have all-male boards?

As well as women taking up just a quarter of board roles, ten company boards remain all-male according to the Hampton-Alexander review. As of June 2018, these are:
  1. Baillie Gifford Japan Trust Plc
  2. Daejan Holdings Plc
  3. Herald Investment Trust Plc
  4. Integrafin Holdings Plc
  5. JP Morgan Japanese Investment Trust Plc
  6. On The Beach Group Plc
  7. Sports Direct International Plc
  8. Stobart Group Ltd
  9. TBC Bank Group Plc
  10. Ti Fluid Systems Plc.

Other news and features from Relocate Global:

Top ten worst reasons companies give not to promote women

As a precursor to the announcement of these latest figures, the Hampton-Alexander review in May released an enlightening list of reasons companies give for failing to achieve better gender balance at senior levels. These include:
  1. ‘I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment’
  2. ‘There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board - the issues covered are extremely complex’
  3. ‘Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board’
  4. ‘Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?’
  5. ‘My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board’
  6. ‘All the "good" women have already been snapped up’
  7. ‘We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn'
  8. ‘There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman’
  9. ‘We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector’
  10. ‘I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to.’

Increasing visibility of women in senior roles

While welcoming the continued progress made by FTSE 100 companies, Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review said, "Far too many companies still have no women – or only one woman – on their board."Similarly, business minister Andrew Griffiths applauded "those businesses who have made great strides", and called on others to prioritise their commitment to tackling gender inequality: “It is clear there is still a long way to go and I urge businesses to keep stepping up and championing diversity." 

HR's role in building the female talent pipeline

With role-modelling, coaching, mentoring and networks among the approaches successful companies are adopting to improve gender balance, the CIPD believes companies can do more to improve more balanced workforce representation.“Seeing is believing and this visibility will likely have much more of an impact on the rest of the workforce than in organisations that just have women in non-executive director positions," Ms McCartney continues.“Organisations can do this by focusing much more at what is being done to carve a path for women already in the organisation to rise up the ranks to these levels.“HR has a significant role to play in helping to build inclusive cultures from the bottom up and create talent pipelines that take away the barriers to the top.“The government also has a greater role to play in sharing the success stories of the organisations that are getting it right.”For related news and features, visit our Human Resources section. Find out who won in this year's Relocate AwardsRelocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory