Women on FTSE boards up by 50% in Five Years

24th February 2021

Posted In: The Topic

The Hampton-Alexander Review was an independent, voluntary and business-led initiative supported by the UK Government to increase the representation of women in senior leadership positions and on boards of FTSE 350 Companies, from 2016-2020.

The scope of the Review covered over 23,000 leadership roles in Britain’s largest listed companies, covering the board and two leadership layers below the board, making the UK’s voluntary approach to improving women’s representation at the top table, arguably the biggest and most ambitious of any country.

Today {Wednesday 24th February} data has been published in the final report from this UK government-backed initiative.

More than a third (34.3%) of FTSE 350 board positions are now held by women, with the number of women on boards increasing by 50% over the last five years, representing a dramatic shift in representation at the very highest levels of business.

While men still dominate in the upper ranks of the UK’s top firms, in five years the Review has seen remarkable progress among FTSE companies. In total, 220 of the FTSE 350 companies now meet the Hampton-Alexander target of having at least 33% of their board positions held by women – with the figure having quadrupled from just 53 in 2015, and there are no longer any All-Male boards in the FTSE 350.

The figures also show an increase in women in wider senior leadership roles, demonstrating that Hampton-Alexander’s top-down approach – with boardrooms setting the standards for women’s representation across the company – is providing pathways to success for women and ultimately supporting business to strengthen leadership with new ideas and diverse perspectives that come from more women in senior positions.

The FTSE 250 reached the Hampton-Alexander Review’s final target of women making up 33% of boards in December 2020, following the FTSE 100 and FTSE 350, which achieved the milestone in February and September 2020 respectively, highlighting the success of the UK Government’s voluntary, business-led approach in addressing the exclusion of women from the top of FTSE companies.

FTSE companies have continued to improve women’s membership of boards since Hampton-Alexander figures were last made public in September, despite the impact of coronavirus, which some research suggests has hit women’s employment particularly hard.

While women make up more than a third of those in senior leadership positions, the Review found that significant progress remains to be made on the highest executive roles, such as CEO.

Hampton-Alexander Review Chair, Sir Philip Hampton said: “There’s been excellent progress for women leaders in business over the last 10 years or more, with boards and shareholders determined to see change. The progress has been strongest with nonexecutive positions on boards, but the coming years should see many more women taking top executive roles. That’s what is needed to sustain the changes made.”

In the final Review, Sir Philip Hampton made a number of recommendations worth noting.

•Companies should as a matter of best practice have a woman in at least one of the 4 roles of Chair, CEO, SID and CFO, and investors should support such best practice

•Recognising the practical synergies on data gathering as well as the common policy rationale, BEIS and GEO should coordinate as much as possible the initiatives Government backs on diversity in business, most notably in respect of gender and ethnicity

•Companies should publish a gender pay gap for their board and their executive committee. This would not be onerous, but would shine a light on the pronounced structural subordination of women in most boards and executive committees

•In order to maintain the progress championed by the Hampton-Alexander Review, BEIS and GEO should review with the Investment Association and other investor groups annually any voting sanctions (eg ‘Red Top’ advice to shareholders) applied to listed companies which fail to meet the gender targets they have set. Public policy may be adjusted in the event of persistent concerns over diversity at senior levels in businesses.

Hampton-Alexander Review CEO, Denise Wilson said: “The lack of women in the boardroom is where it all started a decade ago, and it’s the area where we have seen the greatest progress. But now, we need to achieve the same – if not more – gains for women in leadership.

The supply of capable, experienced women is full-to-over-flowing.

You can read the full Review here>>https://ftsewomenleaders.com/