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Progress is flatlining at 16%
The Women Count 2018 Report published in July by The Pipeline unpacks the status of women in FTSE 350 firms, the number of women on executive committees, and the correlation between female representation and economic performance. It finds that businesses where at least 25% of decision-makers are women significantly outperform companies where women are underrepresented, or even completely absent.
If all the FTSE 350 performed as well as those with women on their executive committee, British companies could enjoy a £13bn “gender dividend”.
The report reveals that for the third year in succession the percentage of women on FTSE 350 executive committees is flatlining at 16%. The underlying figure of only 5% holding P&L roles identifies how much more needs to be done.
Younger people want progress on equality in the workplace and, if not achieved, they will simply go and
work for companies that do prioritise gender equality. Businesses that don’t promote women are increasingly out of step with the British public. Businesses that don’t understand the need to appoint more senior executive women are failing to meet their full potential.
- No progress in getting more women on executive committees
- Women promote women and make change happen
- Correlation continues between profitability and more women in senior roles
- Company boards – women executives do not break through
- Women still hugely underrepresented in other senior leadership positions
- Gender pay gaps are worse without women executives and CEOs
- Young people demand greater gender diversity at work
The following interventions offer companies a solution to the challenge of achieving greater gender diversity.
ONLY THE CEO CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN
Companies take their lead from the boss and if organisations are to deliver true gender diversity, it has to start at the top. Despite only 4% of companies having women CEOs, where they are in place they deliver positive change, making a substantial difference to the number of women executive committee members, with an average of 2.9 (up from 2.6 in 2017) compared to 1.4 for male-led businesses.
There is even more evidence of the difference made by women CEOs in the level of women executives in Profit and Loss (P&L) roles, as they employ four times the number compared to companies with male CEOs.
JUST DO IT
Too many organisations seek the perfect women candidate before making senior appointments. Yet for men it seems they are prepared to take risks.
FOCUS ON THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND PLAN THE FUTURE
Rigorous and actioned succession planning is vital for achieving gender diversity on executive committees. Know which woman is right for which job and be transparent about it.
WOMEN AND MEN AREN’T THE SAME
Recognise that men and women are different, and that specific interventions are needed for each, for example tailored leadership and development programmes. Women respond to clarity in job roles and reward packages, so organisations need to be more specific in these key areas about what they want if they are to attract and promote more women.
This report makes particularly depressing reading. It does, however, show that when CEOs are female, women in those organisations do better.
Having introduced our Future Leaders Award in 2010 with the specific aim of identifying women with the potential to reach the executive board, we’re delighted that this initiative is beginning to deliver on its promise and that the picture will hopefully improve. But progress is way, way too slow.