The number of female directors in FTSE 100 companies has increased by 50% in the last five years, according to the final report of the Hampton-Alexander review.
The government-backed Hampton-Alexander review, which was launched back in 2016, achieved its target of 33% of board positions on FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies to be held by women by December 2020.
The number of women on these boards rose from 682 to 1,026 over the five years of reporting, the report’s authors said. On FTSE 350 companies, this proportion has reached 34.3%, with 220 of those companies having at least 33% of board positions held by women. This number has quadrupled since 2015, when it was 53.
The number of ‘one and done’ boards, where there is only one woman, has fallen from 116 in 2015 to just 16.
The Data collection on this began in 2017
There are only four companies in the FTSE 350 that have a woman as chair and CEO: Admiral, Pennon, Severn Trent and Direct Line.
The FTSE 350 also still has 28 all-male executive committees, although this is down from 44 last year.
Two companies in the FTSE 100 have more women on their board than men: Diageo (60% female) and Severn Trent (55.6%).
Hampton-Alexander Review CEO, Denise Wilson added: “The lack of women in the boardroom is where it all started a decade ago, and it’s the area where we have seen the greatest progress.
“But now, we need to achieve the same – if not more – gains for women in leadership. The supply of capable, experienced women is full-to-overflowing. It is now for business to fully utilise a talent pool of educated, experienced women, to their own benefit and that of the UK economy.”
Chair of the review, Sir Philip Hampton, echoed calls to boost the number of women in top executive positions as well as non-executive roles.
“There’s been excellent progress for women leaders in business over the last 10 years or more, with boards and shareholders determined to see change,” he said.
“The progress has been strongest with non-executive positions on boards, but the coming years should see many more women taking top executive roles. That’s what is needed to sustain the changes made.”
Mary O’Connor Acting Senior Partner KPMG said of the report: “It’s been over 20 years now since the first woman became Chief Executive of a FTSE 100 company – back in 1997 when Marjorie Scardino became CEO of Pearson. In 2011, there were still as many as 152 All-Male boards in the FTSE350. This year, for the first time ever, there are none. That achievement is testament to this very Review and the determination of those championing the issue. It has turned something that we know is right into tangible results. There is no denying that achieving the 33% target in the boardroom and having women represented on all boards marks great progress, but it is by no means a job done. We need to sustain and surpass this. While we must be proud of our achievements to date, even in such challenging times, we also need to acknowledge how much further businesses still have to go.”
At KPMG, I’m very proud of the fact that our Board is the most diverse in our history. We reached gender parity in 2019; and last year the partnership elected our first Black Heritage colleague to the Board. For us to truly progress and thrive, we know that we need to mirror the people within our business, clients and communities. Businesses need to keep up momentum.
It is vital that leaders take real responsibility for inclusion and diversity – in the same way that they do for other business issues, and we must ensure that they hold other leaders accountable. 33% of women on FTSE350 boards and in senior leadership positions by 2020 was a target, not an end goal.
We can always do more to promote inclusion in the workplace, whether that’s in terms of gender, race, background, sexuality or any other factors that might define who we are. Now we have to go beyond the numbers and remove the barriers that under-represented groups face throughout their careers. At KPMG, we insist on having diverse shortlists for all senior level vacancies. We are tackling barriers to progression by ensuring our promotions are proportional and using KPMG-commissioned Bridge Group research recommendations to inform our policies.
There are many businesses making huge strides with their female leadership but too few women hold senior leadership positions and executive roles on Boards. We must focus on creating a stronger pipeline to these positions and getting more women onto these pathways. We need to identify and address the barriers that prevent women from doing their best work, from working with the best customers or clients, or accessing development and promotion opportunities. Our focus on having a level playing field must continue. We have a lot more to do, to change the experience of women and other underrepresented groups in the workplace. Our work doesn’t stop here, this is where it intensifies.
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission responding to Hampton-Alexander Review added
“All the evidence shows that diverse leadership groups make better decisions and so getting more women into leadership positions is essential to a business’s success and the economy. The fact there are no longer all-male boardrooms in the top 350 companies is great progress, but we cannot stop there.
See the full report here