The FTSE Women Leaders Review publishes report around achieving gender balance in FTSE 350 companies

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24 Feb, 2022

The FTSE Women Leaders Review is an independent, business-led framework supported by the Government, which sets recommendations for Britain’s largest companies to improve the representation of Women on Boards and in Leadership positions. It succeeds the five-year Davies and Hampton-Alexander Reviews into Women on Boards. The report provides an update on the progress made in 2021, sets out new targets and recommendations.

Following its predecessors, the Hampton-Alexander and Davies Reviews, the report sets expectations and aspirational goals for the next stage in the journey to gender-balanced Boards and Leadership teams by the end of 2025.

The four recommendations in the report include:

  • The voluntary target for FTSE 350 Boards, and for FTSE 350 Leadership teams is increased to a minimum of 40% women’s representation, by the end of 2025;
  • FTSE 350 companies should have at least one woman in the Chair or Senior Independent Director role on the Board, and/or one woman in the Chief Executive Officer or Finance Director Role in the company by the end of 2025;
  • Key stakeholders, such as the Investment community and corporate governance agencies should continue to set best-practice guidance, or have in place alternative mechanisms as appropriate, to encourage any FTSE 350 board that has not yet achieved the 33% target to do so; and
  • The scope is extended beyond FTSE 350 companies to include the largest 50 private companies in the UK by sales. Private companies include private equity owned companies, partnerships, entrepreneur/ founder owned, family owned or companies owned directly by management and staff.

The Review has indicated that 32.5% (2020: 30.6%) of those currently sitting on FTSE 100 Executive Committees and their Direct Reports are women. There was slightly stronger representation of women in the Direct Reports alone at 33.5% women, but less strong on the Executive Committees alone with only 25.9% of women. For FTSE 250 the representation of women in Leadership, that is the Combined Executive Committee & Direct Reports, has risen to 30.7% (2020: 28.5%), with slightly more progress on the Executive Committee up to 24.4% from 21.7% from last year.

The report notes that one of the key drivers of progress is the appointment rate, which continues to be significantly skewed in favour of men. Almost two out of every three roles that become available in Leadership during the year (63% (FTSE 100) and 62% (FTSE 250)) are still going to men so there is “still more work to do” to achieve the targets set in the review. 

In this year’s report considerations also have been given to the impact of pandemic and economic disruptions and opportunities for sustaining diversity gains for women and business in a post-pandemic recovery. Another feature of the report highlights benefits of virtual recruitment and hybrid working.

More encouraging results were reported on Women on Boards with over 70% of FTSE 100 companies now have four or more women around the board table and 48 (FTSE 100) and 92 (FTSE 250) companies who have already met, or exceeded the new 40% target.

This year the Review is encouraging investors and all stakeholders to step up and encourage companies slow to act to maintain and build on progress on gender diversity at the board level, leadership teams and throughout the workforce.

In the context of the broader 'Audit & Corporate Governance Reform Package' and this third phase of the Review, the report extends the scope beyond FTSE 350 companies and now includes the largest 50 private companies in the UK by sales on its journey to report against the same, market-led, targets. This will provide consistency of regulatory approach and drive further progress across British business.

The full report can be found here

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