Boardroom ‘diversity divide’ revealed

And so the women in the boardroom debate continues…

I have been following and writing on this subject for over a decade. Just as things appear to be progressing, an enlightening report has revealed all is not what it seems.

The government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review has monitored and scrutinised boardroom diversity in the FTSE 350 since 2016 and shown that the number of women on boards has risen 50% from 682 to 1,026 in five years. While this is good news and should be applauded, more has to be done: and not just within FTSE 350 companies.

A recent report from Women on Boards UK – The Hidden Truth: Diversity & Inclusion in the FTSE All-Share’ – has examined data for all companies below the 350 in the FTSE All-Share, and also the gender pay gap reports for all FTSE All-Share firms that produce them. The findings reveal a ‘diversity divide’ between those firms making progress and those not making progress.

It found that in the 261 FTSE All-Share firms below the FTSE 350:

  • under 50% have met the target for 33% women on boards;
  • more than 50% have an all-male executive leadership team;
  • just 16% have any ethnic diversity on their boards;
  • and 37% have one or no female board members.

Women on Boards UK chief executive, Fiona Hathorn, commented: “Progress on board diversity has been painfully slow, yet, recently, there has been a creeping sense that what has been achieved is ‘enough’ and no more effort is needed. This report categorically shows that more is absolutely needed.”

Just as the larger UK companies take several strides forward; their smaller peers show mere baby steps are being achieved. The issue of boardroom diversity is not going away. More really must be done. Sadly, I suspect I will still be writing about this 10 years hence.

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Claire Dee

Director and founder of Surrey-based business consultancy Claire Dee Communications.

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