Top UK companies unlikely to achieve gender parity in the next 15 years: report
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A NEW report has said that the number of women in senior roles at FTSE 350 companies will lag behind men until 2036 as the Covid pandemic pushed the prospect of gender parity in boardrooms by four years, reported The Guardian.
The Women Count 2021 report, produced by gender diversity consultancy The Pipeline, has revealed that just 15 companies of the 350 had female chief executives. These include Emma Walmsley at GSK, Alison Rose at NatWest and Carolyn McCall at ITV.
According to the report, companies have failed to seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to modernise and reform their businesses.
“This report shows how the top of the UK’s major businesses are still an almost total male preserve,” Lady Margaret McDonagh and Lorna Fitzsimons, co-founders of The Pipeline, told The Guardian.
“Times of crisis are moments that offer the possibility of major shifts away from established paradigms. Instead, there has been a reversion to type with companies continuing to fail women. Without decisive action, the future is looking grim for both women who want to be the next boss and the wider economy.”
The report found that 85 per cent of all executives on mainboards are men, and 78 per cent of all executive committee roles are male. Women make up more than half of executive committees and boards at just four per cent of FTSE 350 companies.
The worst performing sector of FTSE 350 companies is manufacturing and engineering, where on average just a fifth of members of executive committees are women. Media companies performed the best where 44 per cent of executive committees are comprised of women, double the FTSE 350 average of 22 per cent, the newspaper report said.
Keith Skeoch, chairman of the Investment Association, told The Guardian: “We cannot continue to hold talented women back by withholding opportunities to reach the top. And post-pandemic we cannot continue to keep the economy back by not ensuring our companies have gender-diverse executive committees that will maximise profits.”
According to the report, the number of FTSE 350 companies with all-male executive committees was reduced from 15 to 10 per cent year-on-year. There was also an increase in the total number of women on executive committees.
But the rate of growth towards gender parity has slowed from 2.7 per cent to 2.5 per cent year-on-year.
This has pushed back the assessment of gender parity for executive committees from a forecast of 2032 last year, to 2036, it added.
“We should not be treating this issue as a special case within our businesses. It is high time that we move beyond business as usual, to make one of today’s key inequities in society a thing of the past,” Amanda Blanc, group chief executive at Aviva, told The Guardian.