‘Only nine FTSE 100 companies are headed by women’

A new analysis finds just nine of the FTSE 100 CEOs are women and that 42% of leaders have a background in finance.

woman presenting at board meeting


Just nine CEOs running FTSE 100 companies are women, according to new analysis by talent solutions consultancy Robert Half.

Of the nine female CEOs in the FTSE 100, four hail from the financial sector, covering insurance, banking and asset management.

The research reveals that 68% got the top spot via internal promotion, up from 46% in 2019, suggesting that businesses are enhancing their succession planning strategies. Close to half (47%) have achieved some form of postgraduate qualification, with 23% holding an MBA, showing that higher education still plays a role in senior career progression.

In previous years, as many as one in five (18%) of CEOs had attended Oxford or Cambridge, but their dominance in the boardroom is fading, with only four from the current list of FTSE 100 CEOs having been educated at Oxbridge.

More than two fifths of CEOs (42%) have a background in finance and banking, despite only 19 of the top 100 companies being in the financial sector. Of these, 16 CEOs are Chartered Accountants or Chartered Management Accountants, making this by far the most common profession at the top. Robert Half says that this is a trend that may be linked to concerns over the financial downturn of recent years.

“Despite significant progress by companies to improve female representation over the last few years, there are quite simply not enough female bosses filling the top spot in the UK’s most successful companies”, says Leyla Tindall, Managing Director for Robert Half Executive Search.

“There are a myriad of reasons for this, but the most significant is the shortage of females in leadership positions – so shortlists for C-suite roles are often not as diverse as they could be. While the introduction of shared parental leave and better support for women returners is encouraging, the time spent away from the workplace to care for a family still sets women back, while their male counterparts continue to progress.”

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