Proportion of women in influential non-executive roles is just 8%, compared with 6% a decade ago, according to Cranfield School of Management
The number of women holding the most senior jobs in the boardrooms of Britain’s biggest 100 companies has barely changed in the past 10 years, despite a series of government-backed initiatives to boost gender diversity.
The analysis by Cranfield School of Management shows that the proportion of women holding the most influential non-executive positions, such as chairman and senior independent director, is just 8%, compared with 6% a decade ago.
The report shows that women now hold 27.7% of directors’ seats in the boardrooms of FTSE 100 companies compared with 11% in 2007, but it is largely a result of women being hired from outside to part-time non-executive roles as part of a drive to meet targets.
The proportion of female chief executives is just 7% – although this has doubled over 10 years – and sparked calls for a renewed focus on promote women into executive roles, particularly at a time when the focus is on Brexit.
The number of women in executive roles – employed as full-time managers in a company – has more than doubled, but is still only 10%.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of employers’ body the CBI, said: “Too much of the focus has been on the non-executives of listed firms, not the day-to-day leaders of our biggest businesses. And at times of great change it’s all too easy to let things slip backwards. This must not be allowed be happen.”
The data was released alongside an update from a government-backed review, which last year set a voluntary target of 33% of FTSE 100 boardroom seats to be held by women by 2020.
Sir Philip Hampton, who had been conducting the review with Dame Helen Alexander, who died in August, is now extending that target to FTSE 250 companies, where the proportion of women holding boardroom roles is currently 22.8%.
“We are making progress towards the targets set out in November 2016, but it’s fair to say that the pace of change will need to quicken if we are to hit the targets,” said Hampton, who is chairman of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
This year, 30% of FTSE 100 boardroom appointments have been women and 34% in the FTSE 250. This will need to increase to almost one in two boardroom appointments being women to reach the target, the Hampton-Alexander review said.
For FTSE 100 boards, this is the same rate of hiring of women as over the previous three years, when they were chasing targets set by Lord Mervyn Davies, the former chief executive of Standard Chartered. In 2011, he called for the doubling of the number of women in boards in five years to 25%.
The Hampton-Alexander review has also set a goal to increase female representation at executive committee management levels – just below the boardroom – by measuring 23,000 management positions in FTSE 350 companies.
It has set a target of 33% women in these leadership teams in FTSE 100 companies. It is currently about 25%.
Seven FTSE 100 companies have executive committees without any women, including Barclays bank and oil company BP, two household names that Hampton said he found “very surprising”.
This is “where the glass ceiling is most conspicuous”, he said.
In the foreword to the report, Hampton said he expected companies without women on their executive committees to explain why. “We look forward to hearing cogent reasons from companies that struggle to identify women with strong executive abilities. We share the scepticism of those who also doubt that limited diversity is consistent with a meritocracy.”
Hampton faced criticism in July for his remarks about the BBC gender pay gap when he said women did not ask for pay rises. He said he was not trying to apportion blame for the disparities.
SOURCE: The Guardian