Female representation on FTSE boards stalls

The latest report from the Hampton-Alexander review geared at improving gender balance in FTSE leadership is calling for a step-change in the pace of progress.

FTSE boardroom equality
Publication of the latest data reported by FTSE350-listed companies shows despite the gains made in the last seven years, the number of women on FTSE100 executive committees and their direct reports remains static on last year. Female leaders now comprise 25.2 per cent of these positions, up only 0.1 per cent on last year.

Gender diversity progress on FTSE boards remains slow

For companies in the FTSE250, this is the first year the government-endorsed voluntary target has been in place. All but ten companies reported their positions, offering a “near complete” dataset. Ten boards remain all male, with female leaders comprising 24 per cent of executive committee and direct report roles against the 33 per cent target by 2020.For businesses and the government to achieve its target for the UK’s largest listed companies, “almost one in two or around 40 per cent of all appointments need to go to women in the next three years,” says the report, which calls for a step change in the pace of progress on board and senior role representation.Sir Philip Hammond, chair of the review, said: “There should be an expectation in business that the process is based entirely on merit. The ‘best’ person gets the job. Given the disproportionate number of men to women in senior roles, business should question the soundness of their meritocracies.”Behind the headline figures, there have been some improvements. The Forward by MPs Margot James, Justine Greening and Anne Milton recall 2011, when women held only 12.5 per cent of board positions on the FTSE100, and compared it to today, where this figure is 27.7 per cent.The starting point for FTSE250 companies is already higher at 24 per cent. Nevertheless, at executive committee level only, this figure falls to 16.6 per cent (19.3 per cent for FTSE100).Just over a fifth of FTSE350 companies are already at or 33 per cent target.“It is apparent many companies have been working hard on this agenda for some time - and with obvious results,” says the review. “Some companies have move very fast, others very slow, some are just beginning and others yet to begin.”
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CIPD wants to see further progress

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, responded to publication of the 2017 Hampton-Alexander Review by welcoming the overall direction of travel, but underscoring the need for a step-change and calling for separate voluntary targets for board-level executive directors.“It is great to see continued improvement in gender diversity among women in leadership positions, but as the review notes, a step-change is needed if the voluntary targets of 33 per cent of women on boards and leadership teams by 2020 are to be achieved,” said Mr Willmott.“Further, much of the progress at board level to date is from non-executive directors. There are still just 30 female executive directors in the FTSE100 and more than three-quarters (77) have no female executive directors, according to CIPD/High Pay Centre analysis.“The review is right to focus on increasing the gender balance of the management talent pipeline across the FTSE350, but more attention needs to be paid to executive directors at board level, with a separate target to drive change.“A successful, sustainable female executive talent pipeline will only come about from developing women at every level of the organisation and every level of their careers. In order for organisations to reach these existing targets, they need to understand now women are recruited, developed and promoted and the barriers to progression to senior roles.”For related news and features, visit our HR section. Look out for the launch of 2018's Relocate Awards, entries open in January. Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

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