PLSA: Analysis of how FTSE 100 companies report on their workforce

While 64% of FTSE 100 companies provide meaningful narrative commentary on the composition of their workforce, just 4% of companies provide a breakdown of their workforce by full time and part time workers according to research carried out by Lancaster University Management School for the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).

The research also found that all FTSE 100 companies detail their CEO’s pay relative to the other executive directors, but only 7% provide the pay ratio between the chief executive and the average or median worker which will soon be a legal requirement.

All companies provide data on gender diversity, at board level, the survey found. Most also do so for management-level employees (99%); and overall workforce (99%). However, only 15% provide details of the ethnic diversity of their workforce.

FTSE 100 companies workforce

Study of FTSE 100 finds inconsistent human capital reporting

The PLSA said it was surprising given the public interest in precarious working, and the reputational damage that some companies have suffered as a result of criticism of their use of flexible working contracts and agency workers that just 7% of the FTSE 100 provided data or policies on their use of agency workers.

The researchers examined the annual reports of FTSE 100 companies to see how they explain their employment models and working practices in relation to company strategy, and what performance measures they use to underpin the narrative reporting. They found that the quality of reporting was highly varied, while useful performance metrics were rarely used, other than where disclosures are regulatory requirements (such as data on executive pay or gender diversity).

This report formed part of a PLSA project to improve human capital reporting. Last year it produced a stewardship toolkit to give guidance to pension funds as to issues that they should be asking their investee companies to address. This guidance recommended that pension funds encourage investee companies to use their annual reports to detail their corporate cultures and working practices in a narrative form. At the same time, the PLSA recommended that the narrative should be underpinned by consistent, concrete data, using performance metrics.

The PLSA said human capital is is an important topic for pension funds because the composition, stability, skills and capabilities and engagement levels of their investee companies’ workforce is a critical determinant of their long-term performance. There has also been considerable regulatory and stakeholder interest in this issue.

The guidance for both defined benefit and defined contribution pension funds from The Pensions Regulator made clear that governance bodies should incorporate financially material ESG issues into their investment considerations. At the same time reforms initiated by the UK Government will introduce greater worker voice into corporate governance structures.

Separately a coalition of investors, organised by the pressure group Share Action, which includes some UK pension funds, has formed a Workforce Disclosure Initiative calling on companies to improve disclosure of their employment models.

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