Half the appointments to board positions in the FTSE350 will have to be filled by women over the next two years
Figures in this year’s Hampton-Alexander Review report, reveal that the companies which make up the FTSE100 index are on track to hit the 2020 target (women occupying one-third of Board places) with more than 30% of board positions occupied by women. This has risen from 12.5% in 2011. However the Review also reveals that just under half of the index are currently underperforming on gender at board level. Swift action is needed now.
As for the FTSE 250 it stands at 24.9% up from 22.8% in 2017 but unless progress picks up considerably in the next two years, it is unlikely to meet the 33% target in the 2020 timeframe. Progress in the FTSE 250 should arguably be faster than the FTSE 100 given its lower starting place. However, this has not proven to be the case over time. Indeed, some companies have slipped back!
Within the FTSE 350 the picture is different. Almost one in four companies have only one woman on their board, and there remain 5 all-male boards.
The one piece of good news in these figures is that half the appointments to board positions will have to be filled by women over the next two years to hit the targets.
What needs to be done?
Addressing workplace behaviours
The Review reveals that companies pushing boundaries this year have turned their attention to workplace behaviours. They are lifting the lid on those micro-regressive behaviours, every day language and practice that unintentionally or otherwise, signal to women that their careers matter less and help reinforce deep-rooted cultures that reward and support the progress of men in the workplace.
These behaviours are reported as
- Assuming women sort the HR matters, organise socials, leaving cards, write up the meeting notes –all the dross list.
- My boss micro-manages my performance, in a way he wouldn’t dare do with male colleagues
- Being called “the girls”.
- Watching mediocre guys coast to high ranking positions based on likeability.
- As soon as I announced I was pregnant they started ignoring me and my work.
Improving the Executive Search Community
13 Executive Search Firms that have qualified this year under the Enhanced Code of Conduct. These are the firms in the UK who are currently appointing more women than most to British boards and working hard to shift gender balance at the top. The Standard Voluntary Code of Conduct has been signed by over 40 UK search firms working to increase diversity at board level on FTSE 350 companies. This code sets out entry-level best practice on gender balanced recruitment and following publication of the Parker Review in 2016, also includes ethnicity.
Pressure from the Investor Community
Investors are increasing pressure on FTSE boards with a lacklustre approach to tackling diversity and this momentum has started to show clear results. Investors now see gender diversity as a core and critical business issue that boards and leadership teams should address. Companies with a diverse management team and pipeline make better decisions, drive innovation and are better positioned to deliver long term sustainable returns for investors.
It’s time to call out the 75 companies that with ‘One & Done’ boards, including one newly formed FTSE 100 company. Previous research has shown having a single female on the board is not effective and thee days, having one woman is little different from having none. Neither is it acceptable to say “we’ve had a woman (so we don’t need to have one again)”.
Many media commentators are calling for a consumer boycott of those companies the Review considers to be “poor performers” at both Executive Committee and main Board levels. This many well be easier said than done as many are not Business to Consumer organisations. However, there are comprehensive lists of “poor performers” including companies with NO men on Executive Committees and those companies with no woman sitting at main board level.
Women in the City comment: This Report is well worth reading – lots of facts and figures. If you’re looking for new roles, you can pick out those companies that are taking seriously the progress of women (and potentially avoid those that aren’t) and if you’re seeking Board roles, there are plenty of FTSE 350 companies that will need women in the next two years.
Check out our Project Diamond micro-website for information on becoming board-ready.