KPMG: A year of progress for women on Scottish boards, but further action is needed

Scotland’s largest publically listed companies are making good progress on boardroom gender balance, but more needs to be done, according to a new report by KPMG.

KPMG: A year of progress for women on Scottish boards, but further action is needed

Denise Wilson OBE, chief executive, Hampton-Alexander Review; Fiona Cannon OBE, group director for
responsibility and inclusion, Lloyds Banking Group; Catherine Burnet, senior partner, Scotland, KPMG; Jacqui
Ferguson; Melanie Richards, Partner, KPMG; Charles Berry, Weir Group.

The latest findings from the Hampton-Alexander review, which monitors the gender balance in all FTSE 350 businesses, reveal half of Scotland’s 14 listed companies have achieved the target 33% for women on board representation ahead of the December 2020 deadline.

In 2018, only three of the then ten FTSE 350 business from Scotland were meeting the target. Across the UK, 30.6% of FTSE 350 board positions are held by women.

As part of the research, the Hampton-Alexander Review also monitors gender balance in over 20,000 UK-wide senior leadership positions within the FTSE 350.

Women’s representation in the senior leadership of FTSE 100 companies has increased this year to 28.6%, up from 27% in 2018, The FTSE 250 has seen a stronger increase, with women’s representation rising this year to 27.9%, up from 24.9% in 2018.

However, around 175 companies are still well adrift from the 33% target, and surprisingly there remain 44 all-male executive committees.

Despite some progress over the last twelve months, The Hampton-Alexander Review is calling for business leaders to take even further decisive action, ensuring that 50% of all leadership position appointments next year are women.

Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the review, said: “This is the penultimate Hampton-Alexander Review report and we enter our final year with great momentum behind us. If this progress continues into 2020, our targets for Women on Boards will be met.

“Whilst this is a key indicator of change at the top, strengthening the number of women in executive positions is critical to achieving long-term gender balance. We are still a long way from reaching the target for women in senior leadership roles below board level. Unless half of all appointments made this year go to women – our target for 2020 is not going to be met.”

The latest findings were unveiled at an event at the Bank of Scotland headquarters on The Mound in Edinburgh.

Panellists and speakers included Denise Wilson OBE, chief executive of the Hampton-Alexander Review; Melanie Richards, partner at KPMG UK; Jacqui Ferguson, who sits on the boards of Tesco Bank, Croda and Wood Group; Charles Berry of Weir Group; and Fiona Cannon OBE, group director for responsibility and inclusion at Lloyds Banking Group.

Catherine Burnet, senior partner at KPMG in Scotland, added: “The data reflects a clear commitment in recent months and years from Scotland’s business leaders to remove the barriers to female leadership. For too long now, women have faced unnecessary obstacles, damaging their prospects and compromising the opportunities that a truly balanced board creates for growth-hungry company.

“The Hampton-Alexander Review has played a crucial role in driving the change. We need to keep that momentum up and ensure that Scotland’s FTSE 350 business community truly reflects modern Scottish society.”

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