Better female representation on FTSE 350 boards
One area of business and finance where inequality is rife is a female representation at board-level for the largest UK companies.
However, progress appears to be happening in this area, with the news that more than a third of board members across FTSE 350 companies are now women.
The news means that the 33% target established by the Hamilton-Alexander review has been met overall.
Despite progress, many individual FTSE 350 firms have failed to reach the target individually, with more than 4 in 10 firms falling behind.
41% of the largest UK companies still don’t have at least 33% of their boards made up by women.
In the past year, the representation of women on FTSE 350 boards has risen by 3.8%.
With businesses facing fresh challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is positive to see progress in this area, even though many firms have still not met their individual targets.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma is calling on all businesses to take action to make sure they reach the target by the end of the year.
The data shows that, within FTSE 250 firms, 18 boards feature only a single woman.
There is also one male-only board within the FTSE 250. Back in 2011, 152 of the 250 companies in the FTSE 250 were entirely male.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
While I am pleased that the FTSE 350 as a whole has finally hit this historic landmark, more than 100 of the UK’s top companies have failed to meet the target.
Research shows that diverse leadership teams are more innovative and make better decisions.
As the UK economy continues to recover from coronavirus, increasing representation of women on boards represents a golden opportunity not only to rebuild, but build back better.
Denise Wilson OBE, Chief Executive of the Hampton Alexander Review, said:
Recognising the significant impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on all business activities, it is encouraging to see the number of women at the top of British business continue to increase.
This confirms the UK’s business-led voluntary approach is working and the benefits of diversity are being recognised, with business seeking more than ever those with fresh energy, new ideas and diverse perspectives.
Sir Phillip Hampton, Chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review, said:
My thanks to the many companies that have already met or exceeded the 33% target and are now reaping the benefits of gender diverse teams.
The progress we have seen over this last decade, is down to the collective and inclusive efforts of all of our stakeholders.
In February 2020, the Investment Association and the Hampton-Alexander Review jointly wrote to around 40 companies in the FTSE 350 with one woman or less on their board, outlining concerns about the lack of gender diversity.
Companies were asked to set out what actions their board is taking to ensure progress is made to meet the 2020 target of 33% representation of women.
Most companies responded positively, recognising the benefits of board diversity and in recent months have taken action to address the shortfall of women
Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association, said:
The deadline for companies to meet the 33% target for gender diversity across their board and senior leadership teams is now fast approaching. Although good progress has been made with many companies recently appointing additional women to their boards and senior leadership teams, some laggards remain.”
On behalf of investors, I want to send a rallying cry to those companies that now is the time to take action and demonstrate real change. Diversity results in better decision-making and plays an essential role in a company’s long-term success and investors expect companies, at a minimum, to meet the target set.
Companies submit their gender data each year via a secure portal on the Hampton-Alexander website, which opens this year on 2nd November and then closes on 30th November.