‘Gender parity at the top crucial for Covid recovery’

A new report on women on executive committees shows that it will take four years longer to get to gender parity as a result of the pandemic.



The UK will suffer financially and struggle to bounce back quickly from the pandemic if gender balance at the top of FTSE 350 organisations continues the downward trajectory it has taken over the last year, according to a new report.

The Women Count 2021 report by The Pipeline suggests that gender parity in the FTSE 350 is crucial for the UK’s Covid-19 financial recovery. It shows that companies with women making up at least 50 per cent of the executive committee secured a profit margin of 21.2 per cent. In contrast, FTSE 350 companies without women on their executive committees suffered on average a fall in profits of 17.5 per cent.

It says that the predicted year for gender parity for women holding executive positions is now 2036 – a projection which is four years more than that given last year.

When it comes to CEOs, the report found that women account for just 5 per cent of the most senior executive position in FTSE 350 companies, a small rise from last year’s 4 per cent figure. In addition, it says 59% of companies have no women in Profit & Loss roles in their executive committee.

The research also found that if all FTSE 350 companies with less than 33 per cent of women on their executive committees were to achieve the same profit margin as those with 33 per cent and greater, there would be an additional £123 billion in pre-tax profit for the UK economy.

The report highlights the simple, straightforward steps companies can take to improve executive gender diversity, unlock higher profit margins and bounce back quicker from the pandemic.

Lorna Fitzsimons, co-founder of The Pipeline, said: “The last year has been dominated by Covid-19, which has disrupted so much. Times of crisis are moments that offer the possibility of major shifts away from established paradigms, but the extreme stresses involved can also drive a response that is regressive. The data in Women Count 2021 reveals that FTSE 350 companies have not used the pandemic as a transformative moment for their businesses, instead there has been a reversion to type with companies continuing to fail women.”

Margaret McDonagh, also a co-founder, added: “Women Count 2021 shows that without decisive action, the future is looking grim for both women who want to be the next boss and the wider economy. Evidence of this lies in the incredibly low-level of women who are in executive committee roles with profit and loss responsibility, which are critical pre-CEO positions, a situation that remains largely unchanged in the last 12 months.”

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