To date, much awareness has been raised to the business issue of the under representation of women at the top of corporate UK. In particular this has been focused on the issue of women on boards with numerous research reports proving that gender balanced and diverse senior management, executive and board teams lead to better corporate performance...

Companies with gender balanced teams achieve:

  • 42% higher return on sales
  • 66% higher return on invested capital
  • 53% higher return on equity

Progess So Far

Since the launch of The Davies Report in 2011 we have seen the number of women on FTSE 100 boards rise from 12.5% to 17.3%, a good result in a relatively short period of time; achieved without the implementation of legislative quotas. However, there are currently only 7% female Executive Directors in the FTSE 100 and the figures are even worse outside of the FTSE 100 (13.8 % of women on boards in FTSE 250 with an average of 15.6% across the entire FTSE 350).

Clearly the under representation of women at the top is not just a FTSE 100 or City issue but a business issue that is effecting all our economy; and one that we need to help, guide, support and drive forward to deliver the change we all want to see.

“The underlying problem resulting in the under-representation of women on boards lies so much deeper within organisations than merely the board, just adding more women onto board numbers is just papering over a crack” Heather Jackson, Founder of The Two Percent Club and Chief Executive of An Inspirational Journey

This exit of women from the corporate career path is often referred to as the “leaking pipeline” and the only way to ensure that more women are working at the top level of corporate Britain is to fix the leaks and address the issues that are preventing women from reaching their career potential.

The Womens Business Forum

Figures clearly show that women are not progressing their careers through to senior management and director level:

  • Six out of ten graduates leaving university are women
  • 45% of workforce are women
  • 93% of executive directors are men
  • Only two FTSE100 CEOs are female

However, anecdotal evidence from our members indicates that there is a clear desire amongst organisations, and ambition amongst the female workforce, to bring more gender balance to the top of business.

This problem cannot be solved overnight, but we do need to act now. If we work to address these issues at lower and middle management now to prepare women for the future, then within 15 years we will see a clear result and increase in the number of women at executive, and in time non-executive, level. The current level of women at the top of business is a reflection of the leadership and recruitment policies of 15-20 years ago. It takes that long to develop and grow a leader with the right mix of skills, experience and capability to contribute effectively at boardroom level.