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Target hit as third of FTSE board roles now held by women

Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom: ‘women continue to face barriers’

A third of all board positions in Britain’s FTSE 100 companies are now held by women.

It means a key target of the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review has been met almost a year ahead of schedule.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom welcomed the “fantastic work” of the Review in meeting this target, achieved on an entirely voluntary basis, without the need for legislation, fines or penalties. 

However, those leading the review highlighted a lack of female representation in senior leadership and key executive roles in FTSE companies. Just 15% of FTSE 100 finance directors are women.

The Review shows that further work is needed for many FTSE 100 companies, and for the FTSE 250 overall to meet the 33% target, as it currently sits at 29.5%.

Research produced exclusively for the Review by the Global Institute for Women Leadership at King’s College London also shows women facing everyday sexism in the workplace, with examples including higher reports of insults or angry outbursts directed at women compared to men.

The forthcoming Employment Bill will seek to better support women in the workplace, with measures including enhanced protections from pregnancy and maternity discrimination and, subject to consultation, making flexible working the default. 

Mrs Leadsom, said: “The Hampton-Alexander Review has done fantastic work.

“But it’s clear that women continue to face barriers to success, whether that’s through promotion to key roles or how they are treated by colleagues.

“Businesses must do more to tackle these issues and we will support them in doing so, including through our world leading reforms to workplace rights.”

CEO of Hampton-Alexander Review, Denise Wilson, said: Half of all available appointments to FTSE 350 leadership roles need to go to women in 2020, not only to meet the 33% voluntary target, but to ensure UK business fully benefits from diverse perspectives and is availing itself of the whole talent pool.”

Chair of Hampton-Alexander Review, Sir Philip Hampton, said: “We have come a long way since 2011 when the UK first embarked on a drive towards greater gender equality at the top of British business. We wish to thank all leaders who have played a part in this incredible journey.”

Sexism in the workplace

Research by King’s College found that women in senior leadership positions continue to face everyday sexism and what researchers call ‘‘micro-aggressions’’ and ‘‘incivility’’ in the workplace. 

King’s College surveyed almost 350 men and women at board or executive committee level and found that:

  • 33% of women reported someone at work had made disrespectful or insulting remarks about them, compared to 13% of men.
  • 23% of women reported that they had been shouted or sworn at by someone at work, compared to 16% of men.
  • 34% of women reported someone at work had ignored or failed to speak to them, or given them the “silent treatment” compared to 23% of men.
  • 39% of women reported being targeted by angry outbursts or “temper tantrums” by someone at work, compared to 23% of men.

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