UK: Women hold 42% seats in big firms

A report indicates that more than two in five seats on the boards of the UK’s largest listed companies are held by women, reaching a record high of 42% in the FTSE 350 this year. However, the report highlights that there are still “too few” women in top leadership positions, with only 10 female CEOs in the FTSE 100. The UK compares favorably internationally, ranking second behind France and ahead of Norway, both of which have quotas for gender diversity. Burberry leads in female representation on its board, followed by Marks & Spencer, Next, and National Grid.

The report notes the standout disappointment in the number of female chief executives, with only 10 women leading FTSE 100 companies. While the overall progress in board representation is acknowledged, the report emphasizes the need for continued efforts to increase women’s presence in leadership roles.

Finance directors and chief information officers in the FTSE 100 saw improvements, with 25% of finance directors and 27% of chief information officers being women. However, the report stresses the importance of accelerating progress to achieve the 40% target set by the Financial Conduct Authority for women’s representation on company boards.

Nine companies in the FTSE 350 still have all-male boards, down from 54 in 2017. The report calls for sustained momentum and efforts to achieve better gender balance in leadership positions and boardrooms.

The business secretary, Kemi Badenoch, praised the progress made by FTSE 350 companies in surpassing the 40% target, urging businesses to maintain momentum to achieve better gender balance in both leadership positions and boardrooms.

The report, known as the government-backed annual FTSE Women Leaders Review, underscores the progress made in increasing gender diversity on corporate boards in the UK. While the achievement of having more than two in five seats held by women is notable, the report signals that further efforts are needed to address the underrepresentation of women in top leadership roles, especially at the CEO level.

With 10 female CEOs in the FTSE 100, the report acknowledges the need for a more significant push to ensure gender balance in executive leadership positions. The report emphasizes the importance of accelerating progress to meet the 40% target set by the Financial Conduct Authority for women’s representation on company boards.

The positive strides in female representation on boards, particularly in functional roles like finance directors and chief information officers, are highlighted in the report. The increased percentages in these roles suggest that they are being recognized as stepping stones to the CEO position, marking a positive trend in leadership development.

The report also points out areas for improvement, such as the need for continued efforts to appoint women to senior leadership positions, including chairs, chief executives, chief financial officers, or senior independent directors. It calls for sustained momentum and collaboration across businesses to achieve a better gender balance in leadership roles and boardrooms.

The business secretary, Kemi Badenoch, encourages businesses to maintain the positive momentum and strive for better gender balance in leadership positions, emphasizing that achieving diversity in leadership is not only a regulatory requirement but also crucial for fostering inclusive and effective corporate environments.

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