Gen­der gap nar­rows

The pro­por­tion of fe­male di­rec­tors in the FTSE 350 has hit a 33pc tar­get for the first time

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - Phoebe South­worth

MORE than a third of FTSE 350 board po­si­tions are now filled by women for the first time, data has re­vealed.

The ma­jor­ity of com­pa­nies have achieved the gov­ern­ment-backed goal of en­sur­ing women make up 33pc of board mem­bers.

Mean­while, fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the top of busi­ness rose by 3.8pc in the last year, the fig­ures showed.

How­ever, 41pc of com­pa­nies have not yet reached the 33pc tar­get, prompt­ing the Busi­ness Sec­re­tary to call on them to en­sure it is achieved by the end of De­cem­ber.

Alok Sharma said: “While I am pleased that the FTSE 350 as a whole has fi­nally hit this his­toric land­mark, more than 100 of the UK’s top com­pa­nies have failed to meet the tar­get.

“Re­search shows that di­verse lead­er­ship teams are more in­no­va­tive and make bet­ter de­ci­sions.

“As the UK econ­omy con­tin­ues to re­cover from coro­n­avirus, in­creas­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women on boards rep­re­sents a golden op­por­tu­nity not only to re­build, but build back bet­ter.”

Chris Cum­mings, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the In­vest­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, said the “lag­gards” who have not reached the tar­get need to pull their weight.

“Al­though good progress has been made with many com­pa­nies re­cently ap­point­ing ad­di­tional women to their boards and se­nior lead­er­ship teams, some lag­gards re­main,” he said.

In Fe­bru­ary, the In­vest­ment As­so­ci­a­tion

and the Hamp­ton-Alexan­der Re­view jointly wrote to around 40 com­pa­nies in the FTSE 350 with one woman or less on their board, out­lin­ing con­cerns about the lack of gen­der di­ver­sity.

Com­pa­nies are re­quired to sub­mit gen­der data on the Hamp­ton-Alexan­der Re­view web­site ev­ery year.

Denise Wil­son OBE, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Hamp­ton-Alexan­der Re­view, said it was pos­i­tive to see that the Covid-19 cri­sis had not sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected progress in en­sur­ing women are rep­re­sented at the top of busi­ness.

“Recog­nis­ing the sig­nif­i­cant im­pact of the global Covid-19 pan­demic on all busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, it is en­cour­ag­ing to see the num­ber of women at the top of Bri­tish busi­ness con­tinue to in­crease,” she said. “This con­firms the UK’s busi­ness-led vol­un­tary ap­proach is work­ing and the ben­e­fits of di­ver­sity are be­ing recog­nised, with busi­ness seek­ing more than ever those with fresh en­ergy, new ideas and di­verse per­spec­tives.”

In the FTSE 250, there were 152 all­male boards in 2011, which has now fallen to only one.

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