Almost 40% of UK FTSE 100 board roles now held by women

Nearly 40% of the board positions at the UK’s biggest companies are now held by women, a government-backed review has found.

The FTSE Women Leaders Review found 414 women held company board roles at FTSE 100 firms last year, up from 374 in 2020.

But the review also exposed a lack of women in executive director roles.

Just 13.5% of the executive director positions were held by women in 2021, down from 14.2% the year before.

The government suggested that the findings demonstrate a “major sea-change” in “attitudes to getting women leaders to the top table of business”.

Although 4 in 10 of UK FTSE 100 board positions were held by women in 2021, the report found that 45.7% of these positions were in non-executive roles, such as senior human resource positions.

Out of the 414 women in board roles, 385 were non-executive positions.

Just 29 women held executive director positions at the UK’s biggest firms last year.

The review’s chief executive, Denise Wilson, has set out new recommendations to increase women’s representation in FTSE 350 board and leadership roles to 40% by the end of 2025 and include the UK’s largest 50 private companies by sales in the next review.

“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,” she said.

Unlike countries such as France, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany, which have introduced quotas for women in executive and management positions, it is voluntary for UK firms.

‘Put spotlight on roles of strategic importance’

Dr Grace Lordan, associate professor in behavioural science and founder of The Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics, said that “on the surface, 39.1% looks like a wonderful statistic”.

But the fact that there were so few women in executive roles means that women are being assigned roles “lower in power” than men at the FTSE 100 firms.

“We need to put the spotlight on positions of strategic importance like the chair, chief executive and chief financial officer roles – not just the non-executive jobs”.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that businesses had made “enormous progress” despite challenges faced in responding to the pandemic, but acknowledged that firms needed to do more.

“While there has been remarkable progress at boardroom level, the report also shines a light on areas where there is still more to do,” he said.

Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, said the government was working to advance equality and will put forward a range of measures to “tackle the issues that are holding women back as we look to ensure that everyone can reach their full potential.”

Co-sponsor of the report, accounting firm KPMG, said that that the “need to maintain momentum and continually challenge remains”.

Chair of KPMG in the UK, Bina Mehta said it is “important” to ensure that the “overflowing pipeline” of “well-qualified and capable” women translates into more women “chairs, senior independent directors, chief executives and chief finance operators.”

Fiona Cannon, group sustainable business director at Lloyds Banking Group, which also sponsored the report, said the firm welcomes the new target to achieve a minimum of 40% women on boards.

“There is no shortage of talented women; we need to ensure the opportunities are there for them to succeed, she added.

Source: bbc

leave a reply