Women non-executive directors ‘less likely to have senior leadership experience’

Women non-executive directors on boards are much less likely to have come from a Group CEO or CFO background than men, but over half have experience of leadership just below that level, according to an analysis by the Ashton Partnership.

The report. Women on Boards: where is the new NED talent coming from?, found that only 16% of the women appointed came from the traditional Group CEO or CFO background for NEDs, compared to 60% of the male appointees. However 54% of the women appointed did have experience of senior private sector leadership roles – most usually divisional or regional CEO or MD roles at one level below Main Board. This was only slightly below the percentage of male appointees having held senior leadership roles, although the men were much more likely to have been a Group CEO.

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The analysis also found women were more likely to come from the Public sector or Not for Profit sector than men, though only 10% of the women appointed came from these sectors. Also some 73% of the women appointed had no previous Main Board experience, compared to 37% of the men appointed.

There was little difference in the percentage of FTSE 250 NED appointees having worked in a listed company environment as an Executive – roughly half of both the women and the men had done so.

Women non-executive directors tended to be younger. The women had been appointed to their first FTSE 250 NED role approximately five years younger than the men had been. The Ashton Partnership says: “This probably reflects the slightly lower level of career seniority attained by the women at the time of their appointment as a NED.”

Only 12% of the women were 55 or over when gaining their first NED role, compared to 25% of men.

Some 77% of FTSE 250 women NEDs and 78% of male NEDs were UK Nationals. Women NEDs on FTSE 100 boards were less likely than those no FTSE 250 to be UK Nationals, with 30% being from the US.

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