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Women in Leadership

Women on Boards

Hampton-Alexander Review

The first Hampton-Alexander Review published in November 2016 builds on the work of the Davies Review to increase the number of women on FTSE Boards, with an important new focus aimed at improving the representation of women in leadership positions of FTSE 350 companies.

“We encourage those not yet focused on improving the number of women leaders in their organisation, specifically CEOs and HR Directors, to join their peers in taking action now. In doing so, companies not only harness the different perspectives and strong skill set of women in decision making, but also address the significant underemployment of women and costly loss of their skills to British business and the economy” 

Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Helen Alexander Chair and Deputy Chair, Hampton-Alexander Review.

The Review has determined a set of five recommendations. The first is a call to action for FTSE CEOs and includes a target for the FTSE 100. The second asks Government to improve the disclosure requirements on listed companies. There are two supporting recommendations for investors and executive search firms and the fifth re-iterates the 33% target for Women on Boards.

Download and read the full report and recommendations here


Women on Boards

F E M A L E  F T S E  B O A R D  R E P O R T  published in July 2016 highlights the latest situation with regards to gender diversity in the board room.

As of 1st June 2016, there are 279 female held directorships across the FTSE 100 boardrooms. The percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards in March increased to 26.0%, up from 23.5% last year, but stagnant compared to the 26.1% recorded in the Lord Davies closing report in October 2015. The percentage of female Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) has increased to 31.4% and that of the Executive Directors (EDs) to 9.7%. Two hundred and forty four women now hold 279 FTSE 100 directorships.

Some other key indicators of progress have also slipped back; board turnover rates have decreased and a smaller share of new appointments went to women in the six months from September 2015 to March 2016. So there is still a long way to go to reach the new target of 33% women on FTSE 350 boards by 2020.

With that in mind the Women of Boards review led by Sir Philip Hampton, Chair of GSK, and Dame Helen Alexander, Chair of UBM will be focusing on improving representation of women in senior layers of the FTSE 350 as part of their next review. Its these women that will ultimately become the board members of the future.

The report highlights the need to concentrate on the whole leadership pipeline if we are to benefit from more balanced boards, It states, a key driver for developing female talent below board level is commitment and accountability from senior leaders and managers. Companies leading the way in terms of talent management hardwire diversity target and achievements to managerial responsibility, performance and reward.

Its important to note that progress against the new target of 33% for FTSE 350 companies can only be achieved if the pace of change picks up again.

The good news is there are no all-male boards left in the FTSE 100 and only 15 all-male boards in the FTSE 250. So even though Muirfield  Golf Club are still refusing to admit women at least the FTSE are beginning to realise the benefits women bring!

New chair & deputy chair for updated women on boards review

It takes a double act to take over from Lord Davies who has been the driving force behind the Women on Board review on increasing representation of women in the executive level of FTSE 100 companies. Lord Davies launched the review back in February 2011.

Sir Philip Hampton, the Chair of GlaxoSmithKline, and former Chair of RBS and Sainsbury’s, has been appointed the role of chair of the independent review. In his first move as chair, Sir Philip has appointed Dame Helen Alexander as his deputy chair. Dame Helen is chair of business information company UBM. There was no deputy chair previously. Most importantly their remit has been widened to look at ways of increasing representation of women in the executive level of FTSE 350 companies.

Sir Phillip and Dame Helen  will continue on from the Lord Davies’s Women on Boards Review, a voluntary business led initiative, which saw female representation on boards in the FTSE 100 rise from 12.5% to beyond the target of 25%. The next stage will focus on building the pipeline for female executives and emerging non-executive directors, continuing the work already done on increasing board representation. This was one of the key recommendations from Lord Davies’s latest report last year.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

The employment rate for women has never been higher and there are now more women on FTSE boards than ever before. But we need to go further, particularly when it comes to paving the way to the executive level. Companies cannot afford to miss out on the skills and talent of the whole population if the UK is going to compete in a fast-moving global economy. This is not just about diversity for diversity’s sake, but about improving performance and productivity.

Sir Philip brings a wealth of business experience to this important role, and he has an impressive track record of creating a culture where women can thrive and succeed.

Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan said:

Having more women on FTSE boards allows companies to benefit from the enormous wealth of talent these women offer, and means these women can act as powerful role models for the next generation of girls.

We have come a long way but we must do more to make sure women everywhere are able to fulfil their potential. I want to see an end to all male boards anywhere on the FTSE 350, and much more progress at the executive layer where we know progress has been slowest to date. Men have a critical role to play in this and I look forward to working with Sir Philip and his team on this incredibly important agenda.


Sir Philip Hampton said:

I am delighted to take on Lord Davies’s great work around Women on Boards and I want to now turn my attention to the FTSE 350. I will focus on improving representation in the executive layer of companies, as well as maintaining the momentum on boards. This means looking at the talent pipeline for female executives and emerging non-executive directors to ensure we create opportunities and the right conditions for women to succeed.

The need is now to focus on the talent pipeline of capable and aspiring women to ensure they can see their way ahead and move into leadership positions. This will ultimately make companies more innovative and more competitive; a leadership team made up of men and women better represents the employee and customer base giving firms an edge in the products and services they offer.

If you need help diagnosing the barriers and designing solutions to develop gender inclusive leadership cultures within your organisation contact The Glass Lift now on

Executive layer the next challenge.

In his final report on “women on boards“, Lord Davies announced that there are now no more all male boards in FTSE 100 companies. The 25% target for female FTSE 100 board members has been met and replaced with a new target for 33% of FTSE 350 board members to be women by 2020.

This is set against the backdrop that in 2011 women made up just 12.5% of board members and there has been a “steady and sustained increase” since then said Lord Davies. Although companies have reached this “major milestone” in increasing the number of women in their boardrooms, more still needs to be done.

The report found that out of 286 female FTSE 100 board members, 260 are non-executive directors. Non-executive board members are involved in the policy making decisions for the business but not in the day to day operations. “The focus of our work was on fixing the boardroom. We’ve done that and there’s very few all-male boards left,” Lord Davies he said. “We now need to see the same change, through a voluntary approach, in the executive committee structure of big companies and small companies.”

Even at board level the news is not all good. There is known to be a considerable amount of “doubling up“. The report counts positions held by women, not individuals, so women who serve on more than one board would have been counted multiple times.

Executive search companies have even reported if current trends continue, many female non-executive directors may leave their boards in the next 18 months as their terms expire, that could mean a drop in the number of top women non-executive directors to 17%.

The report also highlights the need to address the all-important executive layer immediately below the board, which has always been recognised as a longer term and more complex challenge. It states it is critical to extend the drive to improving the representation of women in the most senior leadership positions in organisations:

We recommend FTSE 350 companies extend the best practice seen at board level to improve gender balance and look to fundamentally improve the representation of women on the Executive Committee and senior-most leadership positions.”

Download the full report and recommendations here. 

Davis Report 2015

The latest Davis report is positive about the prospect of reaching 25% women on FTSE 100 boards in 2015.  It highlights that the focus should now switch to the pipeline of female Executive talent.

Davis report update Women on Boards 2015 report

picture of boardroom chairs

Women on Boards

The Davies Report: Women on Boards Feb 2011

In 2010 women made up only 12.5% of the members of the corporate boards of FTSE 100 companies and Lord Davies of Abersoch was asked by the Government to investigate the barriers preventing women from reaching senior decision making roles in business, including at the boardroom level. Women on Boards, published in February 2011, highlighted the low numbers of women reaching the top and set a goal of 25% representation by 2015.

The Davies Report outlined the business case:

Women are successful at university and in their early careers, but attrition rates increase as they progress through an organisation. When women are so under-represented on corporate boards, companies are missing out, as they are unable to draw from the widest possible range of talent. Evidence suggests that companies with a strong female representation at board and top management level perform better than those without and that gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance. It is clear that boards make better decisions where a range of voices, drawing on different life experiences, can be heard. That mix of voices must include women.”


Progress in the UK: The Davies Report annual update 2014

The Davies report annual update 2014 states women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards now stands at 20.7%, up from 12.5% in 2011, with only two all male boards remaining. The FTSE 250 has achieved 15.6%, up from 7.8% in 2011.


The Government Equalities Office: Think, Act, Report 2 years on

British businesses said they could fix this on their own and didn’t want legislation or quotas. Many organisations have since signed up to the Government’s Think, Act, Report scheme, which aims to ensure that all women reach their potential in the workplace. Progress has been made, but according to the recent Davies review the goal of 25% representation by 2015 will not be reached without business re-doubling efforts.

Despite progress in the Boardroom, there are still very few women CEO’s representing some 5% of the FTSE 100. The focus now needs to be on strengthening the executive pipeline. At The Glass Lift we support businesses to achieve these aims by developing the next generation of women leaders.


Women on Boards in the European Union

From The European Commission: ‘Women and men in leadership positions in the European Union, 2013. A review of the situation and recent progress’.

The European Commission view the under-representation of women in corporate decision-making as representing a significant economic cost to companies and to the economy as a whole at a time when Europe needs to fully exploit the talents of all parts of the workforce in order to ensure growth and ensure competitiveness.”

Women on Boards in the European Union

From The European Commission:  ‘Women and men in leadership positions in the European Union, 2013. A review of the situation and recent progress’.

The European Commission view the under-representation of women in corporate decision-making as representing a significant economic cost to companies and to the economy as a whole at a time when Europe needs to fully exploit the talents of all parts of the workforce in order to ensure growth and ensure competitiveness.”


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