Thursday 11 July 2019

UK: Cranfield's Female FTSE report 2019

The latest annual edition of Cranfield University's Female FTSE Board Report has been published: see here (pdf). To quote directly from the executive summary:
This year we see a more encouraging picture emerging in terms of the number of women on FTSE boards. Over the past 12 months the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards has increased from 29% to 32%, so the 33% target set for 2020 is well in sight. In total 292 women hold 339 directorships on FTSE 100 boards. The percentage of female non-executive directors (NEDs) is at the all-time high of 38.9%, whilst the percentage of female executives remains worryingly low at 10.9%."

However, and to quote from the report's concluding remarks:
We are pleased to report on the good progress achieved this year in terms of increasing the number of women on both FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 boards. .... What is very concerning is the mounting evidence to show that once women are appointed to boards they have significantly shorter tenures and are less likely to be promoted into SID [Senior Independent Director] or Chair roles. The number of women holding Chair roles across FTSE 100 boards has actually decreased on the already low levels of last year. Urgent action needs to be taken on addressing this issue, hence we welcome the initiative set up recently to accelerate women into Chair roles. It is vital that women are not appointed to boards because of the symbolic importance. This is not the case of just ticking a box. One of the routes into Chair is to acquire experience running a board committee, hence it is positive news this year that the percentage of women chairing such committees across FTSE 100 boards has increased to 31%. Clearly women directors have many more strengths to offer beyond being women. In our extended analysis of their diversity this year, we see that the women directors across FTSE 100 boards come from many countries (only 55% are British), different ethnic backgrounds, a range of universities (with only 11% from Oxford and Cambridge), are financially extremely literate (55% have held various financial roles) and won many awards. We certainly do not have enough women from BAME backgrounds nor women from outside of the corporate mainstream. We also note that the average age of women directors is several years below the average age of men directors, indicating another bias. All these gaps in the talent pipeline must be addressed if the UK is to fill its boards with the best individuals available."

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