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Gender diversity increasing since introduction of target.

Research in 2011 revealed that only 12.5 per cent of FTSE 100 board positions were held by females. As a repsonse, in 2016 the Hampton-Alexander Review introduced gender diversity targets for all FTSE 350 companies which were endorsed by the government. These included having 33 per cent of board members being female by 2020, the same percentage of females making up executive committees and direct reports to these committees, as well as an increased number of females taking up the role of chair, senior independent director and executive director.

An examination of current figures has revealed that it is now estimated, for the first time, that FTSE 100 organisations are on track to meet the gender targets should they maintain current progress. Recent figures show that 32.1 per cent of board positions within the FTSE 100 are now held by women, a significant increase since 2011, whilst there is now 27.5 per cent of board positions held by females in the FTSE 250.

In further action to help spur organisations towards meeting the target, the Review has ‘named and shamed’ 14 organisations within the FTSE 350 who have no females or only one female member on their board. It has also been revealed that four organisations within the FTSE 350 have all-male boards - a fall from 152 organisations in 2011. 69 organisations were originally written to by the Review and the Investment Association outlining their concerns regarding the gender diversity of their organisations and asking them to confirm the actions being taken by the board to meet the 2020 target. Since this action, 20 organisations have appointed least one more female to their boards.

1 July 2019 marks the opening of the online portal whereby FTSE 350 organisations can submit their gender representation data, with a deadline of 31 July. This data can then be analysed by the Hampton-Alexander Review to examine the progress and ability of these organisations to meet the female representation targets.

Although not legally required gender targets, the female representation aim reflects increasing pressure on large organisations to recognise and work towards gender diversity across every part of their structure. It is thought that investor and public pressure will be a very useful tool to encourage organisations to meet these targets. Smaller organisations are similarly being encouraged to review their diversity, whether on a gender or other basis, and the opportunity to improve female representation afforded by initiatives such as introducing returner schemes and voluntarily examining and reporting on gender pay gaps are being increasingly understood. Greater workplace diversity is recognised as contributing towards higher productivity, increasing initiative and improving employee engagement.

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