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Women on Boards of FTSE 100 Companies

WISE analysis of female representation on FTSE 100 Boards 2016.

13 September 2016

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In this year’s list, there are only 6 companies across the FTSE 100 with only one woman on the board and 60% of companies now have more than two women on the board of directors. Within the STEM sector the number of companies reaching this milestone has increased significantly since 2015 (Table 1). However, the STEM sector still lags behind the non-STEM sector where 65% of companies have hit this benchmark.

Of the companies listed on the FTSE 100, 48 are classified as STEM and 51 as non-STEM. Across the FTSE 100, 26% of directorships were held by women; non-STEM companies have a slightly larger representation of women on their boards than STEM companies (see Figure 1). Of 279 female board directors, 125 (45%) are in STEM sectors, down from 47% last year.

(Figure 1)

There are now 61 companies who have met the voluntary target of 25% women on boards suggested by the Lord Davies report, 27 of these are STEM companies. During the closing of the Davies review, a new voluntary target of 33% was set to be achieved by 2020; in order to meet this target companies should be achieving 27% women on boards in 2016. Only 44 companies have achieved this target, and of these only 18 are STEM companies.

The figures on executive directorships remain concerning for another year, of 268 executive directorships across the FTSE 100, only 26 are held by women (9.7%). The figures are more concerning within the STEM sector where there are only 7 female executive directors within 6 companies.

The Cranfield 2016 Report ranks the same two STEM companies, Diageo and Unilever in its Top 10 with the highest percentages of women on their Boards. Diageo remained at the top of the rankings, with 45.5%, and Unilever rose from 8th to 4th place with 43% women (up from 35% in 2015).

Further Insight

  • In the FTSE 250, there are 90 companies meeting or exceeding the 25% voluntary target. Of these companies, 25 are in the STEM sector.
  • In order to sustain the growth in the number of women on FTSE 100 boards, the number of women on executive committees of the companies must substantially increase. Currently only 24 companies have over 25% women on their EC, and only 8 of these are STEM companies. This raises concerns about the sustainability of the talent pipeline necessary to keep the number of women on boards growing.

The secondary analysis uses data from the Cranfield University School of Management Female FTSE 100 report 2016 (Dolder et al, 2016). The report ranks the FTSE 100 companies according to the percentage of Board directorships that are held by women.

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