In the UK, the issue of gender diversity in senior leadership positions has been increasingly brought to the forefront. The FTSE Women Leaders Review, which captures over 24,000 leadership roles in 350 of Britain’s largest listed companies, has set a target for 40% representation of women in FTSE 350 Boards, as well as Executive Committee and Direct Reports, to be achieved by the end of 2025.
This voluntary initiative to improve women’s representation in senior positions is arguably one of the biggest and most ambitious of any country and it has already had a tangible impact on C-Suite hiring.
The business case for gender diversity in the C-suite has been well-established, with studies showing that companies with diverse leadership teams tend to outperform those without. Despite progress being made in recent years, there is still a significant gender imbalance in senior leadership positions in the UK.
Meeting The Targets
Over recent years significant progress has been made to reach the FTSE 350 Targets. By October 31st, 2021, women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards rose to 39.1%, meaning the 40% target is close to being achieved. In fact, almost half of all FTSE 100 companies have already surpassed the 40% target.
However, at the end of 2021, 15 companies had still not surpassed the previous 33% target and are, in effect, acting as a drag on the progress of the group as a whole.
For the FTSE 250, progress has been a little slower reflecting the wider range and diversity of companies on the list. Just 30 of the FTSE 250 companies have met the 40% target, building on targeted initiatives over the last few years to address the shortfall in women at senior levels.
There are now 65 companies in the FTSE 250 that have reached, or exceeded the 33% target, which was set under the Hampton-Alexander Review to be achieved by the end of 2020. While companies across the board have been making progress, there are still 116 of the 250 who have yet to meet the 33% target.
In fact, some FTSE 250 companies have only recently begun to identify women in leadership as a core and strategic business issue.
Why does it matter?
C-suite diversity is of increasing interest to investors, customers, the young workplace demographic and women themselves.
Having a diverse range of perspectives and experiences in the C-suite brings a range of ideas and viewpoints to the table, which can lead to more effective decision-making. This can be particularly important in today’s fast-changing and competitive business environment, where adaptability and agility are crucial for success.
Having a gender-diverse leadership team can also improve the company’s reputation, both among employees and consumers. This can be critical in industries where female consumers are a key target market.
The role of executive search
Executive and CEO search plays a crucial role in helping companies to address the gender imbalance in the C-suite. This will involve leveraging extensive networks to identify qualified women candidates who may not be visible through traditional recruitment channels.
By partnering with an executive search firm that is committed to gender diversity, companies can benefit from the firm’s expertise in recruiting and retaining top female leadership talent.
Contact us to find out more.