Only 1 in 5 commercial roles on the executive committees of FTSE350 companies are held by women, a new report reveals.
The annual Women Count report, by The Pipeline, the market-leading business championing executive women, analysed gender parity at the Executive Committee level within the UK’s largest businesses. Instead of holding the most influential executive roles – such as CEO, or positions with profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities, women were limited to more ‘functional’ roles, such as HR or Marketing – missing out on the typical stepping stones to being a CEO.
Although female representation on the board of FTSE350 companies exceeded 30% for the first time, the report reveals that only 13% of the FTSE100 have a female Chief Executive Officer and across the FTSE350, just 9% of companies have a female CEO, up from 4% in 2019. Similarly, just 18% of the FTSE350 have a female Chief Financial Officer – despite women comprising nearly half of those qualifying as accountants
The data also highlights sizeable discrepancies in gender representation on senior teams across different sectors within the FTSE350. While some sectors have achieved over 40% female representation on their executive committees – notable performers including transport, health and insurance – other sectors, such as IT, automobile, mining and private equity, are significantly behind the curve, with female representation on the board standing at under 20%. Both the Private Equity businesses included in the report had no women executive committee members.
This analysis revealed that: 47% of respondents identified workplace environment and culture-related issues as the biggest obstacle to their development
For the first time, research extended to include a survey of senior women to understand the challenges they face in their careers and gain perspective on why women continue to be a minority on the boards of business organisations.
This analysis revealed that: 47% of respondents identified workplace environment and culture-related issues as the biggest obstacle to their development in leadership roles and 44% believed their organisation was not putting enough emphasis on supporting women in achieving their career goals. Nearly 50% highlighted flexibility and career advancement as the most important decisions made by leadership teams to enable women to break through.
Margaret Edge, Programme Director at The Pipeline, said: “The glass ceiling is far from being smashed: this year’s count demonstrated that it may be cracked, but it’s still firmly in place in the majority of organisations. Respondents to our survey highlighted the need for businesses to continue to invest in leadership development to ensure women succeed at the highest level. We are calling on business to set itself measurable targets on gender parity in P&L and executive leadership roles just as they have on boards.”