Severn Trent makes history with all-female top team

Severn Trent has become the first FTSE 100 companies to appoint women to its top three roles.



Water company Severn Trent has become the first FTSE 100 firm to appoint women to the company’s three top positions: chair, chief executive and chief financial officer.

The firm announced this week that Helen Miles, previously capital and commercial services director, is to replace James Bowling as chief finance officer [CFO]. Miles, who will formally start in the new role when Bowling retires on April 1st, joins Liv Garfield as chief executive and Christine Hodgson as chair.

Data from the FTSE Women Leaders initiative found that just 16% of firms had a woman in a CFO position last year.

Severn Trent was also recognised in the 2023 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index [GEI] this week – the fourth year running.

The GEI recognises a company’s commitment to solving gender inequality through policy development, representation and transparency.

The index measures gender equality across five pillars: Leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture and anti-sexual harassment policies and external brand. Severn Trent received its highest ever score in four years at 74%.

Liv Garfield said: “We firmly believe that a diverse business is a more successful one, so it’s important that we create a workforce that’s fair for everyone. It means we can provide a better service for customers, as diversity helps us truly understand the communities we serve and operate in.

“This global recognition is another proud moment for us, and shows we’re clearly heading in the right direction and doing the right things when it comes to addressing gender inequality.

“It will always be a key focus for us to address equality and create a fair and equal workplace, and we’ll continue to play our part in building a fairer society.”

The 2023 Index includes over 400 companies across 45 countries and regions. Member companies represent a variety of sectors, including the financial, technology and utility sector.

Garfield, a mum of two, was named one of the 100 Women to Watch in a recent report by the prestigious Cranfield School of Management in 2011. At the time she was working at BT. She joined Severn Trent as CEO in 2014, becoming the youngest female CEO in the FTSE 100.

She told executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles in 2019 that one of the most formative periods of her career was her return from maternity leave, with a key mentor being her boss at the time. She said: “Returning from maternity leave, I was committed to working four days a week. As I came back, I was offered a big promotion, reporting to the CEO, and my immediate reaction was that I wouldn’t be able to make it work, that the timing wasn’t right and I needed to prioritise my family. My CEO gave me the confidence to believe I could do the role within those four days, that the promotion didn’t mean working harder or longer hours, but it meant leveraging my intellect and my team in a different way. He made me believe that I could be a good mom and a good CEO.”

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