Over half of our FTSE 350 board appointments went to women last year

08 Mar 2020

Over half of our FTSE 350 board appointments went to women last year

Not only were 54% of the senior board appointments female, but two-thirds of those were taking an FTSE 350 board role for the first time.

The Hampton-Alexander review of women on UK boards has a clear target: boards should be 33% female by 2020. So, it’s encouraging to report that our performance over the past 12 months has exceeded that figure by a considerable margin.

54% of our FTSE 350 board assignments in the past year led to a woman being appointed.

Notably, 2/3 of the women we helped appoint were taking their very first FTSE 350 board role.

Once again, our performance reinforces Odgers Berndtson’s position in the top tier of UK executive search firms accredited under the Enhanced Code of Conduct in the latest Hampton-Alexander review.

This Enhanced Code, established by the Government, acknowledges those firms who are appointing more women than most to British boards, and who are working hard to change the gender dynamic of the leadership at the top of UK business.

Two female board members appointed each week

During 2019, we witnessed the biggest increase of female board appointments in the UK since the UK Government first backed the Davies Review, in 2011. During the year, each week, two additional women stepped onto FTSE350 boards.

Another indication of progress is that a quarter of FTS350 companies now have a female senior independent director. What’s more, there is an upward trend towards greater numbers of women chairs.

Whilst more can be done, it is encouraging that more women come through to senior levels and progressing to board level. We also welcome the focus below that level too.

By paying attention to those just below the board level, this encourages companies to retain and develop their most talented senior women, and we work closely with our clients and candidates to help with this.

Speaking of candidates, successful or not, at Odgers Berndtson, we do a thorough audit and ask them about their experience of each search. This feedback helps to improve the support we provide. Many female candidates have marked out this support as valuable and effective.

Mentoring female leaders across industries

We have initiated various initiatives, focusing, for example, on mentoring female leaders to step up.

These include an industry-wide mentoring scheme for women leaders in hospitality, another programme focused on the tech industry, and a recently launched scheme, again with major industry partners, making a positive impact on the food and drink sector.

As International Women’s Day helps us to focus on forging a gender-equal world, together with our clients and candidates, we will continue to work towards balancing the boardroom, and the wider world of senior business leadership.