UK senior executive searches ‘show bias against women’

A new survey shows bias in the language used to hire senior executive roles.



Companies searching for senior executives show greater signs of bias against women than in searches for junior roles.

The consultancy firm Sia Partners used data analytics to search 100,000 job adverts in the UK across 11 sectors from 2,900 companies in the UK and found senior roles are being consistently advertised using less inclusive language than junior roles.

All-male boardrooms

The survey comes after analysis shows that all-male boards at FTSE 350 firms have disappeared. The 30% Club reports that a target of having at least one woman on the board of every company on the index was reached at the end of January, although, for many, the boost in female board members has come through non-executive directors.

Ann Cairns, global chair of the 30% Club and executive vice-chair of Mastercard, said: “The eradication of all-male boards across Britain’s 350 biggest companies is cause for celebration, particularly at a time when Covid-19 threatens progress in women’s equality. Time and again research has shown companies with diverse boardrooms and senior leadership outperform their peers. Simply put, diversity is good for business.

“However, there is still lots more work to be done to make sure all-male boards remain a thing of the past. Last year’s fleeting experience of their disappearance across the FTSE 350 proves how fragile progress in the UK’s corporate gender diversity remains.

“And there’s even more work to do to bring female representation up to parity on those boards, let alone boost the numbers of female chairs, CEOs and CFOs.”

The group revealed that across the FTSE 100, 36.2% of board seats are held by women, with 33.2% across the FTSE 250 and 34.3% across the FTSE 350. However, just 21.5% of FTSE 350 executive committee positions were held by women as of February 16th. Analysis also shows that just 4% of FTSE 100 board positions are held by women of colour, with the rate falling to 2%-3% across the smaller indexes. The group is campaigning to see at least one person of colour on every FTSE 350 board by 2023

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