It’s now precisely twenty years since the first woman became chief executive of a FTSE 100 company. After Marjorie Scardino took over as CEO of Pearson others followed and now there are six women chief executives and the same as chairs of FTSE 100 companies. It’s still not enough, but things are changing – and across all aspects of diversity.

Gender, however, is the only measure of diversity which has been making headlines for over twenty years. Progress has been measured and analyzed, paving the way for a new and more ambitious approach led by Hampton-Alexander, soon to report for the first time.

The new requirements force companies to look not just at the composition of their boards, welcome though that is, but also women rising through the ranks. This is welcome because it focuses attention on organizations and how they foster and develop all talent.

Taken together with new requirements enforcing greater transparency on male and female pay, these changes promise to accelerate progress on gender and, hopefully, also other aspects of diversity.

There are lessons and challenges from gender for wider diversity. The journey on gender has been long and is far from over. This 20-year mark, ushering in the most comprehensive measures yet to help women progress their careers, seems a good moment to take stock.

As the leading executive search firm in the UK, and one of the biggest globally, Odgers Berndtson has a role to play. We are one of the lead firms behind a voluntary code of conduct to promote best practice on diversity in recruitment, and proud of our record, but societal change is complex and our industry one of many pieces of the jigsaw.

Comprehensive measures and statistics on progress abound. Less so informed perspectives taking a longer view - of changes made and perhaps still needed. Our business is about people, though we rarely make personal perspectives public. That is precisely our aim here.

Twenty years into the journey on gender seems a good time to take stock.

Please read/download the full report here

Virginia Bottomley

Rt Hon Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, DL Virginia Bottomley chairs the Odgers Berndtson Board & CEO Practice. She conducts searches for Chairs, CEOs and Non-Executive Directors for plcs and pri...

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