The Investment Association and the Hampton-Alexander Review have written to FTSE 250 companies who have not done enough to improve gender representation on their boards.
Nearly one in five FTSE 350 companies have been sent letters from the Investment Association (IA) and the Hampton-Alexander Review about the lack of gender diversity on their board and executive committees.
These 63 companies have been asked to outline what action they are taking to improve the gender balance in their leadership teams and ensure they meet the Hampton-Alexander targets of a minimum 33% of women on their board and in their senior leadership teams by the end of 2020.
The Investment Association says many companies have made great progress with recent news showing that, across the FTSE 100 index, one third of all board positions are now held by women.
However, it says more needs to done by FTSE 250 boards. Twenty four companies have been cautioned for having only one women on their board, for instance. The Association says 13 companies have received a letter encouraging robust action to address the lack of women in their top teams for a second year running, in 2019 and 2020.
For the first time, companies with all-male executive committees have been contacted. Letters were sent to 35 FTSE 350 companies, including four FTSE 100 companies, drawing attention to the lack of progress on women being appointed to their senior leadership teams. An additional four FTSE 250 companies had an all-male executive committee and also only one women on their board.
Investment managers say they will be keeping up the pressure on companies during the 2020 AGM season to improve their gender diversity. IVIS, the Investment Association’s Institutional Voting Information Service, will continue to give a ‘red-top’, its highest warning level, to companies which with just one woman (or less) women on their board. This year, companies which have 20% or less gender diversity on their board or in their senior leadership teams will also receive a ‘red-top’.
Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association, said: “Since the launch of the Hampton-Alexander Review we have seen steady progress with a growing number of women on boards. This is a critical year in which businesses need to demonstrate real change and meet the 33% target for gender diversity across their board and senior leadership teams.
“Diversity results in better decision-making and plays an essential role in a company’s long-term success. Investment managers have been clear that as a minimum they want to see companies meet this target for gender diversity, and those which fail to do so risk facing dissent in the AGM season.”