Women increase presence in top boardrooms


The City of London financial district is seen in London, October 22, 2021. [Photo/Agencies] The number of women in boardroom roles at FTSE 100 companies in the United Kingdom has risen from 12.5 percent a decade ago to 39.1 percent, according to new figures from global data company BoardEx

The information is included in the government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review, and Denise Wilson, chief executive of the review team, said there had been a “revolutionary change” in the 10 years

In the UK, boardroom representation rules are voluntary, unlike other countries in Europe where they are mandatory

The review said that the next voluntary goal should be for companies to have at least one of four key roles-board chair, senior independent director, chief executive and or finance director-filled by a woman, and that the country’s 50 biggest private businesses should be expected to meet the standard set by listed companies

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of women’s rights organization the Fawcett Society, said that although the progress was welcome, there was still more work to be done, with women holding just one-quarter of roles on executive committees

The devil is in the detail here,” she said. “In the majority of boardrooms men continue to be overrepresented. When we look at the most senior positions of CEO and chair the progress is painfully slow.”

Wilson backed the move for more women in the most important roles, saying it would be “the last and final hill to climb”, but cautioned that progress to achieving it was likely to be slow, given the longevity of many people already holding such key positions

“We know there is much more work to do and no shortage of experienced, capable women, ambitious for themselves and their company across all sectors of business today,” she added

Grace Lordan, founder of The Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics, told that BBC that “on the surface, 39.1 percent looks like a wonderful statistic”, but that the distribution of power through the roles held told another story

“We need to put the spotlight on positions of strategic importance like the chair, chief executive and chief financial officer roles – not just the non-executive jobs”, she added

One extremely high-profile appointment that is soon to go through, according to Sky News, is Anna Cross becoming group chief financial officer at Barclays, making her the first woman to take any of the three most poweful roles in the bank

Barclays, whose annual results are scheduled to be published on Wednesday, has not yet commented on the report that she is to replace Tushar Morzaria, who is leaving the role after eight years. She is currently his deputy