Boardroom balance tipping: women take 39.1% of FTSE 100 roles

The latest FTSE Women Leaders Review, which monitors women’s representation in 24,000 positions on FTSE 350 Boards, is published today.

Woman in suit at apex of group of colleagues
The annual benchmarking report reveals how government-banked voluntary codes, pressure from campaigning bodies, and the actions of frontline managers, HR professionals and individuals are paying off.According to the FTSE Women Leaders Review 2022, the UK is now second in international rankings for women’s representation on boards at FTSE 100 level.Nearly 40% of positions are held by women, compared with 12.5% ten years ago. However, there are just eight female CEOs in FTSE 100 companies and ten leading those in the FTSE 250. Currently only Admiral Group Plc, Severn Trent Plc, Pennon Group Plc and Direct Line Insurance Group Plc in the FTSE 350 have both a female CEO and Chair. 
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Progress still to be made

Across the FTSE 350, over 700 more women occupy Leadership roles this year, increasing women’s representation to 31.5% and an increase of 2% year-on-year.The number of all-male Executive Committees in the FTSE 350 decreased this year to 16, down from 28 in 2020.Despite progress, the report highlights where significant imbalances remain. For example, only one in three leadership roles and around 25% of all executive committee roles are held by women.There are still many companies also yet to hit the former 33% target set by the Hampton Alexander Review.

'Major sea-change'

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, believes today’s findings “demonstrate a major sea-change in attitudes to getting women leaders to the top table of business in the UK.”The increase in female representation on FTSE 100 boards puts the UK (39.10%) ahead of Norway (38.20%), Sweden (36.90%) and the Netherlands (35.30%) in the top five countries for female board representation, behind top-ranking France (43.8%).Commenting on the data, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “UK businesses have made enormous progress in recent years. Today’s findings highlight this with more women at the top table of Britain’s biggest companies than ever before.”
 CountryIndex% of board positions held by women 2021
2United KingdomFTSE 10039.10%
4SwedenOMX Stockholm36.90%
6AustraliaS&P ASX35.10%
7FinlandOMX Helsinki35.10%
8BelgiumBEL Institutional34.30%
10CanadaS&P TSX33.70%
Source: BoardEx and other public and/or statutory sources as of 10 January 2022.

'But more to do'

The number of women in FTSE350 Chair roles rose to 48, up from 39 in 2020. There has also been a significant decrease in the number of so-called ‘One & Done’ boards to just 6 this year, as British businesses take action to diversify their boardrooms.Commenting, Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, said: “It is excellent to see the progress being made, but we know there is more to be done.“We will shortly put forward a range of measures to advance equality for women at work, increasing opportunity, and tackling the issues that are holding women back as we look to ensure that everyone can reach their full potential.”

New recommendations

To ensure British companies continue to raise their game and open up opportunities to everyone, today’s FTSE Women Leaders Review report has set out four new recommendations:
  • the voluntary target for FTSE 350 Boards and for leadership teams is increased to a minimum of 40% women’s representation by the end of 2025
  • FTSE 350 companies to have at least one woman in the Chair, Senior Independent Director role on the Board and/or one woman in the Chief Executive Officer or Finance Director role by the end of 2025
  • key stakeholders should continue to set best practice guidelines or use alternative mechanisms to encourage any FTSE 350 Board that has not yet achieved the previous 33% target for the end of 2020, to do so
  • extending the scope of the FTSE Women Leaders Review beyond FTSE 350 companies to include the largest 50 private companies in the UK by sales
These recommendations aim to increase gender balance further, bringing new focus to the appointment of women at the highest levels of British business, particularly in those companies that are still lagging behind.Denise Wilson, Chief Executive, FTSE Women Leaders Review said: “Today the FTSE Women Leaders Review announces four new recommendations for this next stage, which will embed the progress and hard-won gains of the last decade and take business further on the journey to gender balance in the boardroom and in leadership.“We know there is much more work to do and no shortage of experienced, capable women, ambitious for themselves and their company across all sectors of business today. So while we continue to build on progress for women on boards, we need to firmly shift focus in this next phase to women in leadership roles at the top of the organisation.”

New corporate partners

The government is also announcing today that KPMG and Lloyds Banking Group will be the corporate sponsors for FTSE Women Leaders Review in this next phase, providing important support to increase the number of women at the top of British business.Bina Mehta, Chair of KPMG in the UK, said: “While the representation of women in leadership roles has continued to improve, the need to maintain momentum and continually challenge remains.“Forty is the new 30 when it comes to women’s representation targets on boards and in senior leadership roles.“But beyond the numbers, it’s just as important to ensure that the overflowing pipeline of well-qualified and capable women translates into more women Chairs, SIDs, CEOs and CFOs. I’m delighted KPMG UK is co-sponsoring the FTSE Women Leaders Review, helping to make truly inclusive leadership cultures a reality for all businesses.”Fiona Cannon, Group Sustainable Business Director, Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Lloyds Banking Group is pleased to co-sponsor the FTSE Women Leaders Review. We firmly believe that gender equality provides a real competitive advantage and companies with diverse leadership teams see increased performance and make better decisions.“We welcome the new target to achieve a minimum of 40% women on Boards and in leadership teams and are particularly pleased that there will be a strong focus in the Review on increasing the number of women in leadership positions.“There is no shortage of talented women; we need to ensure the opportunities are there for them to succeed.”

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