No progress and some backsliding on number of FTSE 350 female executive directors on boards

table surrounded by chairs


The number of women executive directors on FTSE 100 and 250 boards has flatlined or dropped, according to a report by Cranfield School of Management which criticises the lack of progress in improving gender diversity at the highest executive echelons of leading UK companies.

The report’s analysis shows that female numbers have continued to be boosted by non-executive directors rather than by any increase in the number of women coming up through the pipeline. Indeed in the FTSE 250, the number of female executive directors has dropped by eight from 38 to 30 over the last nine months. The statistics show:

  • that for the FTSE 100, while the percentage of female non-executive directors is at an all-time high of 35.4%, female executive positions have flat-lined for a fourth consecutive year at 9.7%. Despite this, the percentage of women on boards has increased from 27.7% in October 2017 to 29% in June 2018
  • for the FTSE 250 the number of female executive directorships dropped from 38 to 30 between October 2017 and June 2018. There has also only been a marginal increase in the number of women on boards, from 22.8% in October 2017 to 23.7% in June 2018
  • FTSE 100 and the Gender Pay Gap – the top 10 companies for the proportion of women on boards reported a slightly lower average gender pay gap than the bottom 10. The two best companies were Diageo (55% women on boards, 4.1% gender pay gap) and GlaxoSmithKline (45% women on boards, 2.8% gender pay gap)
  • Female directors are on average nearly two years younger than their male counterparts, but serve for less time and have an average tenure of 3.7 years compared to 5.4 years for men.

Professor Sue Vinnicombe CBE, Professor of Women and Leadership at Cranfield School of Management, said: “Now, more than ever, is the time for disruptive change. We need to think big and act decisively in order to move the needle. FTSE 350 companies need to treat gender diversity as seriously as they treat sales, risk management and innovation, otherwise nothing will change.”

The report includes reference to in-depth interviews with functional directors such as HR Directors, General Counsels and Communications Directors. These are not normally considered for board roles as they are seen as having narrow functions and lacking operational experience and business acumen. The report questions this assumption and calls for them to be considering more seriously as an important pipeline of executive and non-executive board talent.

It adds that companies should recognise that men and women may express leadership aspirations in different ways so they can ensure that not only those that naturally ‘claim’ leadership roles are given the chance to step up and it says the  role sponsors, organisational cultures and inclusive talent processes play in forming and affirming leaders needs to be recognised.

Another report, Women Count 2018, released this week by The Pipeline also shows the business dividend of getting more women into executive positions. It says FTSE 350 companies with no women on their executive committee only achieve an average 8.9% net profit margin. Where there are at least 25% women on executive committees, average net profit margins rise by 5%, to 13.9%.

The report also found that female CEOs are instrumental in recruiting more women to senior positions, with female CEOs having more than twice the number of women on their executive committees than male CEOs and female CEOs have four times the number of women executives in Profit & Loss roles on their executive committees compared to male-led companies. Only 4% of FTSE 350 companies have female CEOs, yet within a year these female CEOs have increased by 10% the average number of women executive committee members.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises