The increase in female FTSE 100 board members now stands at 33% – a notable rise from 12.5% less than ten years ago .
In essence, it means the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review met its key target about a year ahead of schedule.
The Business Secretary praised the results as ‘fantastic work’. She also added that the voluntary achievement avoided the need for legislation or fines.
Even so, the figures highlight a distinct lack of FTSE women leaders at senior and key executive roles. For example, only 15% of FTSE 100 finance directors are women.
Further research also shows that women are still facing everyday sexism in the workplace. The typical examples exposed, include a higher count of insults or angry outbursts directed at women – as compared to their male counterparts.
Note: A forthcoming Employment Bill should better support women in the workplace. The measures include enhanced protections from pregnancy and maternity discrimination. New laws could also make flexible working arrangements the norm.
Improving Boardroom Diversity
The Hampton-Alexander Review highlights the main barriers that women are still facing on the path to corporate success. The biggest hurdles they face include:
- Securing promotion to key roles (e.g. CEOs).
- Suffering poor treatment by their colleagues in the workplace.
Hence, big businesses must do more to tackle and improve boardroom diversity. As a result, the government will introduce world leading reforms to increase workers’ rights – especially in company management.
The Hampton-Alexander Review
The aim was to have females filling at least half of all the available appointments to FTSE 350 leadership roles in 2020. Doing so would:
- Meet the one third voluntary target set out by the government (i.e. 33%)
- Avail UK companies to the whole talent pool.
- Help to ensure businesses in the United Kingdom benefit from diverse perspectives.
Note: The chief executive of the review said unconscious bias and gender stereotyping were hindering further progress in the number of FTSE women leaders.
Tackling Incivility in the Workplace
King’s College carried out further research into everyday sexism (e.g. micro-aggressions) in the workplace. A survey of 350 senior leadership positions held by men and women revealed:
- 33% of women said they received disrespectful or insulting remarks about them by someone at work (compared to only 13% of men).
- The number of women who reported being shouted at (or sworn at) by a work colleague was 23% (only 16% of men said the same).
- 34% of women (compared to 23% men) said they had received the ‘silent treatment’ (being ignored or disregarded) at work.
- 39% of women said they suffered ‘temper tantrums’ or outbursts of anger by a work colleague (compared to 23% of males).
As a result, a hostile workplace culture will make it more difficult for women to reach leadership positions in the United Kingdom.
We must encourage the ‘calling out’ of undermining behaviour at work – and not reward it! Building an inclusive environment that embraces boardroom diversity means everyone can prosper.
Representation of Women in FTSE 100 Companies
The following information and statistics comes from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Government Equalities Office [updated for 2020].
- 66% human resource director
- 40% company secretary
- 37% general counsel and company secretary
- 29% general counsel
- 17% chief information officer
- 15% finance director
FTSE 350 Boards
- Women hold 29.5% of FTSE 250 board positions. Hence, the progress indicates the target of 33% is on track).
- Further reductions in the number of ‘One and Done’ boards are continuing. The latest figures show only thirty FTSE 350 companies have one (1) woman on the board (down from 74 in 2018).
- An increasing number of executive search firms are bolstering female representation in key roles and re-committing to the Enhanced Code of Conduct. Their aim is to ensure at least 45% of all FTSE 250 board appointments go to women.