Credit: Whitbread Plc

4 damning stats that reveal the lack of gender diversity at the top of UK Plc

Despite a lot of progress at board level, just one sixth of top roles are held by women.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 07 Jul 2016

The government’s Davies enquiry rightly spurred on a hiring spree of women to fill the boards of Britain’s biggest companies. The proportion of women directors on FTSE 100 boards doubled between 2010 and 2015 to more than 25%.

But while an increase in the number of female non-executive directors is a good thing, there remains a big problem at the executive level - as a new report by The Pipeline and Ridgeway Partners makes very clear. Researchers looked at the composition of the executive committees of Britain’s 350 largest listed companies and the stats are less than inspiring.

There are 318 women on Britain’s top executive teams. That might be more than 10 years ago, but it means women still occupy just 16% of all executive committee positions – lagging well behind their representation on boards.

Less than one fifth of FTSE 100 firms have an executive committee comprising at least 25% women, and 13 have no women in their top team at all. The picture is even worse down in the FTSE 250, where almost one third (29%) of companies has an all-male ex-co.

Read more: Which FTSE 100 boards have female directors?

Fifteen – just 4.2% of – FTSE 350 companies have a woman chief exec, which shows that the top seat at the executive table remains particularly elusive. Although the number of FTSE 100 female bosses has increased recently – thanks to the addition of Whitbread’s Alison Brittain (pictured) and Kingfisher’s Veronique Laury, there has never been more than six at one time.

Almost three fifths (59%) of companies have no women in ex-co positions that have responsibility for profit and loss. Just 38% of all female committee members have P+L responsibility, while the majority work in functional roles like marketing or HR. It’s not clear how that compares to the proportion of male committee members. But what it means is nationally just 122 women are working in senior FTSE P+L roles, which are generally regarded as the best route to the CEO’s office.

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