Despite progress in female representation on non-executive board positions, this year’s Female FTSE Board Index Female compiled by Cranfield University School of Management has identified the continued lack of women in executive roles on boards of the UK’s leading companies.
In a 48-page detailed analysis, experts from the school’s International Centre for Women Leaders scrutinise data provided by the UK’s top 350 companies. Drawing on 20 years of experience in this area, the Female FTSE Board Report’s authors identify the leading players in gender diversity in the FTSE 100, and highlight those companies that are lagging behind the rest.
Highlights of the report:
- FTSE 100 – while the percentage of female non-executive directors is at an all-time high of 35.4 per cent, female executive positions have flat-lined for a fourth consecutive year at 9.7 per cent. Despite this the percentage of women on boards has increased from 27.7 per cent in October 2017 to 29 per cent in June 2018, meaning it may be possible to reach the target set by the Hampton-Alexander Review of 33 per cent by the end of 2020.
- FTSE 250 – the number of female executive directorships dropped from 38 to 30 between October 2017 to June 2018. There has also only been a marginal increase in the number of women on boards, from 22.8 per cent in October 2017 to 23.7 per cent in June 2018 on the FTSE 250.
- FTSE 100 and the Gender Pay Gap – the top 10 companies for the proportion of women on boards, reported a slightly lower average gender pay gap than the bottom 10. The two best companies were Diageo (55 per cent women on boards, 4.1 per cent gender pay gap) and GlaxoSmithKline (45 per cent women on boards, 2.8 per cent gender pay gap)
- Female directors are on average nearly two years younger than their male counterparts, but serve for less time and have an average tenure of 3.7 years compared to 5.4 years for men.
Professor Sue Vinnicombe CBE, professor of Women and Leadership at Cranfield School of Management, said:
Now, more than ever, is the time for disruptive change. We need to think big and act decisively in order to move the needle. FTSE 350 companies need to treat gender diversity as seriously as they treat sales, risk management and innovation, otherwise nothing will change.
Aviva, a leading provider of insurance and asset management products has sponsored the Female FTSE Board Report since 2017.
Sarah Morris, chief people officer and non-executive director at Aviva Investors Board, said:
There has been some progress over the last 20 years, and it’s encouraging to see the biggest companies in the UK on track to hit the 33 per cent target. But that is still only 33 per cent.
The benefits of greater diversity are clear so now it’s up to the FTSE 250 to increase their ambition. Still too little is being done to change the cultures which prevent talented women staying and rising to the top. We urge companies to act faster, for the sake of their people and their business.”
Professor Ruth Sealy, director of Exeter Business School’s Centre for Leadership and co-author of the report, said:
The lack of diversity amongst executives of so many FTSE companies, even in functions which have balanced or majority female intakes, reveals such poor management. Organisations must now be bold and decisive in designing senior roles and careers fit for the 21st century in order to optimise the available talent.”
Dr Elena Doldor, senior lecturer at Queen Mary University and Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management, led the interviews. She said:
Our interviews show that men and women have different experiences of progressing into senior leadership roles.
The data in this Report make for depressing reading and it really is time to shift the dial and recognise that it’s less about “fixing” the women, less about “reports and initiatives” and more about shifting workplace culture.