Report highlights pockets of diversity stagnation in leading companies

A new report by Women on Boards and Protiviti focuses on companies just outside the FTSE 350 and finds half have no women executives on their board.



Half of companies in the FTSE  All-Share ex350 have all-male executive leadership teams with no female executive leaders, according to a new report.

This is down from 54% in 2021,  but compares very badly to the FTSE 350, where only 4.6% have all-male executive leadership teams, says the report.

The Hidden Truth About Diversity and Inclusion in the FTSE All-Share from Women on Boards UK and global consulting firm Protiviti monitors the gender and ethnic minority representation on FTSE All-Share boards – the 252 companies below the largest 350 companies (ex350). The report calls for ongoing and deeper scrutiny across listed companies to give a true picture of UK boardroom diversity.

The report reveals that women have made small gains in the last 12 months, with 34% representation for women board directors, up slightly from 31% in 2021. However, the data also shows a disconnect between women holding roles on boards and those in executive leadership positions. Only 16% of board chairs are women, and even fewer CEOs – 7% – are women. This represents no change since 2021.

Furthermore, 44% of companies in the FTSE All-Share ex350 have yet to achieve the relatively low target of 33% women on their boards and 25% of boards are all-male or with only one woman.

The report does reveal a positive correlation between female CEO leadership and diversity. Companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their executive leadership teams than those run by men. Female CEOs had an average of 55% representation of women on their executive leadership teams compared to 14% for the companies with male CEOs. The statistics are similar for companies with female Chairs regarding their board members (45% women on boards versus 32% for companies with a male Chair).

Fiona Hathorn, CEO of Women on Boards UK, says: “The data shows small gains compared to last year, which is a positive indication that UK firms are starting to take boardroom diversity seriously.  Board diversity is increasingly viewed as a baseline requirement for modern companies, so it’s incredibly disheartening to see stagnant progress in some areas. There remains a high number of firms yet to reach even the most minimal levels of diverse representation, at both executive and non-executive level. To these firms I say, catch up – and quickly.”

When it comes to progress on ethnic minority representation, 25% of boards in the FTSE All-Share ex350 have at least one director of colour, up from 16% in 2021. This is significant progress, but still leaves 75% with entirely white boards, says the report. It also analyses for the first time UK ethnic minority representation on executive leadership teams and reveals that just 8% of executive leaders on FTSE All-Share ex350 Boards are from UK ethnic minority backgrounds.

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