Odgers berndtson
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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Our progress in appointing women to the board

Gender parity has been exceeded for the fifth year in a row, with four in five of the women introduced to FTSE 350 boards being new to the group.

For another year, we are bettering the target level of the Women on Boards Enhanced Code for female board appointments at FTSE 350 companies. Significantly, for the fifth year running, we have reached gender parity in our placements and four in five of the women we introduced to FTSE 350 boards were new to that community.

As of December 2022, 60% of our FTSE 350 main board appointments were secured by a woman, 80% of which were new to the FTSE 350 boardroom.

This further demonstrates creativity in approach, drawing on our unique reach and connectivity across the public, private and third sectors. Of all our FTSE 350 shortlisted candidates, 57% were women.

These encouraging results align with the Government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review, of which Odgers Berndtson is a longstanding supporter, publishing its report on female board representation. The report highlights the UK is ranked second internationally for women’s representation on boards at the FTSE 100 level and that currently 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are now carried by women, in comparison with 9.5% just 12 years ago.

This is three years ahead of the target date of 2025, a significant achievement. The report shows the success of the UK government’s voluntary, business-led approach to setting targets to appoint more women to boards, with the UK positioned ahead of countries that enforce a mandatory quota system on businesses.

As British businesses take action to diversify their boardrooms, the recommendation from 2021 that at least one in four of the key board roles of Chair, SID, CEO and CFO be occupied by a woman is being increasingly met; the proportion of FTSE 350 boards fulfilling this rose from 53.4% to 59.4% in the last year, and the number of women in chair roles across the FTSE 350 rose to 55%, up from 48% in 2021.

UK businesses continue to drive progress in their leadership teams. In spite of challenges faced in responding to COVID-19, there are proportionately more women in leadership roles in the FTSE 350 companies this year, with women’s representation increasing by two percentage points year-on-year to 33.4%. While boardroom progress is clear, the report also suggests areas which require attention. For instance, just 27% of executive committee roles are held by women with very few women in CEO positions. Comparably, over half of the FTSE 250 are still to reach the former 33% target set by the Hampton Alexander Review

The report, which builds on the success of the previous Hampton-Alexander and Davies Reviews, monitors women’s representation in 24,000 positions on FTSE 350 boards and leadership teams. It has now expanded its scope to include the UK’s 50 largest private companies, who are embracing the value of keeping themselves to account, rather than being obliged to do so. Women represent 34.3% of Executive Committee roles and their direct reports in these businesses (on a par with the FTSE 350). However, work remains to be done at board level with an average of 31.8% of private board seats held by women, lagging behind their public counterparts.

This is where we can help. Odgers Berndtson excels in diverse appointments and inclusive recruitment processes. Our methodology brings the highest quality of leadership expertise from a truly diverse pool of talent, whether that’s for board or leadership team positions. If you’d like more information or help with your next leadership appointment, please get in touch using the contact details below.

For more information on how women can secure their first board role, please read this article: How female leaders can get their first Board role.

For more information and advice about board roles generally, download the guide to getting your first non-executive director role.

More information and advice on the value of introducing outside directors to family business boards can be found here.

Get in touch with Susanne Thorning-Lund, Partner, Chair & Board Practice

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