Call for FTSE 350 firms to appoint more women to senior leadership roles

The UK government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review 2017, has urged FTSE 350 companies to fill more board and senior leadership positions with talented women with the hope of making the UK a world-leader on gender diversity in business. The review, which was chaired by Sir Philip Hampton and the late Dame Helen Alexander, published its recommendations last year.

Its research found that almost 28% of board positions in FTSE 100 companies are occupied by women – up from 12.5% in 2011. In that time the number of all-male FTSE 350 company boards fell to just eight from 152. This means that, with continued efforts, FTSE 100 companies are on course to meet the review’s 33% target for women on boards by 2020.

However, Sir Philip Hampton called on FTSE 350 companies to quicken the pace of change on boards and extended the 33% target for senior leadership positions, that currently applies to FTSE 100 companies, to all FTSE 350 companies. He said that at least 40% of appointments to senior positions will have to be filled by women over the next three years if FTSE 350 firms are to hit the ambitious targets.

FTSE 350 senior women

Hampton urges for more women to be promoted to senior roles

Sir Philip Hampton said: “Some of our largest companies have made significant progress towards meeting these challenging targets, both on boards and in their leadership teams. We should be seeing all FTSE companies now making strides to improve the gender balance at the top.

This year we have seen progress pick up on FTSE 100 boards and go slow elsewhere. We must now renew commitment to this important issue for UK business to fully harness the under-utilised potential of the many talented women in the workplace.

Lady Barbara Judge CBE, chairman of the Institute of Directors added: “Companies have substantially increased the number of female director appointments in the last few years, proving that there always were plenty of talented women out there just waiting to be given the chance to show they belonged in the board room”.

The next challenge is to create a step-change in the proportion of senior executive positions held by women. In this way, we can build a pipeline of female talent to consolidate and build on the improvements we have seen in the last few years.”

The review said that FTSE 100 companies, and 96% of FTSE 250 companies excluding investment trusts, voluntarily responded to the review’s requests for their gender diversity data.

Cranfield also published its  Female FTSE Board Report 2017 this week which showed that the percentage of women holding FTSE 100 non-executive (NED) positions is at an all-time high of 33%. However, the percentage of women holding executive directorships remains low at just under 10% on the FTSE 100 and under 8% of FTSE 250.

The research found that within the FTSE 100, 34% of male non-executive directors hold senior independent director or chair positions compared to only 8% of women non-executive directors. In 2007, 6% of women held senior roles as non-executive directors.

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