FTSE 100 business on track to hit gender board targets but more work must be done - Hampton-Alexander Review

Catherine Burnet

The government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review for 2018 has revealed companies in the FTSE 100 index are on track – as a whole – to hit targets of women holding one-third of board level positions by 2020.

In Scotland, there are currently 10 companies listed on the FTSE 350.

Three are currently already meeting the target of more than 33 per cent females at board level by 2020, with another one currently on track to meet the target.

The findings, presented by Denise Wilson, CEO of the Hampton-Alexander Review, at the official launch event in Edinburgh on Monday evening (19 November), revealed across the FTSE 350, almost one in four companies in the UK have only one woman on their board. This means half the appointments to board positions will have to be filled by women over the next two years to hit the targets.

Within the FTSE 100, Scottish highlights include Royal Bank of Scotland, which, while falling behind its 2020 target, with 23 per cent female representation at board level, is already exceeding 2020 targets at executive committee representation (34 per cent). Similarly, Standard Life Aberdeen, which has 21 per cent of board positions filled by women, sees 32% female representation at executive committee level.

Within the FTSE 250 index, Scottish companies also perform well at board level, with 40 per cent of the Scottish Investment Trust’s board made up of women, and an executive committee made up of 33 per cent female representation. Wood Group also ranks highly, with 40 per cent of board positions filled by females. Similarly, Aggreko and the Weir Group have 33 per cent and 30 per cent female board level representation, respectively.

KPMG, the key sponsor of the Hampton-Alexander Review, explored this year’s findings and looked to the future as part of the launch event in Scotland.

Melanie Richards, deputy chair at KPMG, was joined by Sir Philip HamptonChair the Review and of GlaxoSmithKline, Denise Wilson, Baroness Ford of Cunninghame - Chair of STV Group, Fiona CannonDiversity and Inclusion Director at Lloyds Banking Group, and Keith Anderson CEO of Scottish Power.

Catherine Burnet, senior partner for KPMG in Scotland, said: “There has been some excellent progress made through the work of the Hampton-Alexander Review since its inception. The growing number of women on boards and among the leadership of FTSE 100 and 250 firms reflects the efforts and change in emphasis businesses have placed on tackling the gender gap.

“However, in Scotland and across the UK, it is undeniable more must be done to achieve true equality and we must all redouble our efforts. The momentum created by the review has to translate into faster change in the future, motivating leaders to look at the demographics of their teams at every level. This requires systematic focus on all aspects of recruitment, and retention. The progression of women remains key, coupled with an emphasis on creating an environment in which talent can thrive, leadership stereotypes are challenged, and individuals are valued for their skills and capabilities – it was fantastic to hear the range of solutions our panel members were adopting in their organisations to achieve this.”

The Review discussion in Edinburgh highlighted key elements businesses must ensure are in place to help facilitate more women at a senior level. Primarily, having a culture which actively champions diversity from the top level down, is crucial. Business leaders should be seen to lead by example, taking responsibility for pushing through changes throughout the business – including recruitment – to promote the right environment for females to progress. This culture must be bolstered with the correct business structure and functions to promote a diverse workplace. From a robust HR arm to flexible working policies – combined with a shift in culture – these elements will help change mindsets and help pave the way for positive change at board, executive committee level and beyond.

Chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review and of GlaxoSmithKline, Philip Hampton, said: “Over 100 FTSE 350 companies have already achieved - or exceeded - the 33% target for women on boards, with a further 50 companies well on their way.

Tackling the gender pay gap is a key part of the UK Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, through which it aims to help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs while boosting people’s earning power and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to progress in the workplace.

Under new laws introduced in April 2017, voluntary, public and private sector employers with 250 staff or more were required to publish their gender pay gap. The UK was one of the first countries to introduce such measures.

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