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Improving Gender Equality on Company Boards

Chief executives of FTSE 350 companies are being urged to be transparent about the number of women they have in leadership positions and to hand over data to independent reviewers on increasing female representation in business.

Independent Review

The call comes after leaders of an independent review into increasing female representation in the senior ranks of the UK’s largest businesses wrote to FTSE 350 companies requesting their latest data for the number of men and women in the executive pipeline.

This review is being chaired by Sir Philip Hampton, Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, and Dame Helen Alexander, Chair of UBM. In November 2016 they set a voluntary target for FTSE 100 companies to increase the proportion of women sitting on executive committees and their direct reports to 33% by 2020.

Statistics on Gender Representation

Statistics published at the time showed just 25% of those positions were occupied by women. The latest statistics on gender representation at the top of business are expected to be published later this year.

“Businesses have already made great strides over the last six years by more than doubling the number of women in board positions,” commented Business Minister Margot James.

“But our largest businesses must continue to grasp the nettle which is why today I am urging CEOs of FTSE 350 companies to help drive the agenda for greater inclusivity in the workplace by becoming more transparent about the gender makeup of their leadership teams,” she added.

Women Still Largely Unrepresented on Boards

Interestingly, a separate recent research project has found that companies with a female CEO or board chair have almost twice as many women on the board as companies led by men.

Deloitte’s ‘The Women in the Boardroom’ report, which tracks the efforts of 64 countries to promote boardroom gender diversity, found that 29% of board positions are held by women in companies with a female CEO. This compares to 15% in companies with a male CEO.

Overall, women are still largely under represented on corporate boards, says Deloitte, despite continued efforts to improve inclusion and boardroom gender diversity.

Only 15% of board seats worldwide are held by women, a slight increase from the 12% reported in the 2015 edition of the report. Norway apparently has the largest share of board seats held by women at 42%, followed by France (33%) and Sweden (32%). The UK is 12th on 20%, an increase from 15.6% in 2015.

“The increase in the number of women on UK boards and the fact that many companies have met or exceeded Lord Davies’ target is positive,” said Nick Owen, chairman of Deloitte North West Europe. “The focus is now on the representation of senior women below the board level.”

“The Hampton-Alexander review recommended that women should hold one-third of positions on, or reporting into, executives committees at FTSE 100 companies,” he added. “Although achieving this will be difficult, more diverse management teams will have a real impact on building an inclusive culture, underpinned by respect. Focusing on culture will enable UK businesses to provide a working environment where people are able to succeed, and are judged solely on the value they bring.”

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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