Women in Tech

Lack of female executives in biggest tech firms

23rd November 2022
Kiera Sowery

There has been a steady increase in the number of women on corporate boards and representation in the boardroom, however there is still a lack of progress for women in executive positions in Britain’s biggest companies.

The Female FTSE Board Report 2022 highlights not enough is being done to bring women into management roles. The yearly report produced by Cranfield School of Management has provided a regular measure of the number of women executive directors on the corporate boards of the UK’s top companies since 1999.

The report demonstrates that while vital progress has been made, most directorship roles occupied by women are at the non-executive level, rather than CEOs or Chairs. Which isn’t good enough. Decision making within big firms can become more inclusive.

Women account for 40% on FTSE 100 boards, and the parallel percentage for FTSE 250 boards is 39%. This means the FTSE 100 boards have met the target set by the Women Leaders Review for 2025 and FTSE 250 are on the cusp of meeting it.

“If progress on non-executive diversity has been glacial, this report makes clear that executive diversity is the immovable mountain. No progress in three years, and a minority of new executive leadership appointments going to women simply is not good enough.

“The operating environment for all businesses is changing – and fast. The best will be those who embrace the change needed to attract and retain diverse talent, as well as thriving on the change they will bring.

“Ultimately, companies need to be brave and let a new style of leader take the reins, looking outside those who fit the traditional model for the role,” explained Fiona Hathorn, CEO and Co-founder of Women on Boards UK.

Ann Clairns, Global Chair of the 30% Club and Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard said: “There are more women in the boardrooms and on the executive teams of Britain’s biggest companies than ever before but make no mistake there’s a long way to go before gender equity is achieved.

“While it’s true that there are now almost 40% women across the boards of the FTSE 100, it’s taken around two years to move from 36% to 40%. Parity is still years off.

“When we drill down into the numbers, most women remain in non-executive director roles and account for less than a fifth of board chairs in the FTSE 100. And when we see just nine women leading as CEOs it’s clear there is a real and significant problem in the executive pipeline.

“And of course, the figures for women of colour against every metric in this report are miniscule. We cannot be complacent. Commitment to diversity and inclusion in these turbulent economic times is crucial to preventing progress for working women being wiped out.

“It’s also vital to ensuring all the best and brightest minds get the opportunity to be around the leadership table. That’s what makes business better.”

Recommendations

  • Chairs need to provide their leadership in guiding and advising the CEO and, with the board, holding them accountable for meeting diversity objectives.
  • CEOs need to recognise that they have the ultimate control and capability to disrupt the current hiatus and deliver more gender balance in the executive roles.
  • Board evaluation consultants can play an integral role in terms of evaluating how effectively boards and companies are managing executive succession planning and whether they are gender proofing the process.
  • Investors have been and can continue to be influential change agents. Investor demands for better progress as well as programmes like the IA’s institutional voting information service (IVIS) are gaining the attention of Chairs and play a vital role in putting public pressure on Chairs and boards. Better alignment of their red topping programme with targets publicly set would increase impact.

Women deserve both to exist where decisions are made, and to play an integral role in making those decisions.

Read the full report here.

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