One in every two FTSE 100 executive appointments over the next year will have to go to a woman if gender equality targets are to be met by 2020.
The latest findings of the Hampton-Alexander review show that 28.6% of women were in executive leadership roles in these companies when the data was gathered this summer. Across the FTSE 250, that figure was 27.9%.
Performance is better in terms of women on boards: the FTSE 100 sits at 32.4%, up from 30.2% in 2018, while the FTSE 250 has jumped to 29.6% from 24.9%.
The recommendations of the review are that FTSE 350 boards are 33% female by the end of 2020, and for 33% representation across leadership roles including positions on executive committees and direct reports to the executive committee.
Despite describing this as the “strongest year of progress” in terms of board representation, with targets likely to be met, the review has called for a step-change in recruiting women into executive roles.
Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the Review said: “This is the penultimate Hampton-Alexander 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 review identified two companies in the FTSE 250 that still have all-male boards – property company Daejan Holdings and software company Kainos. It also singled out 39 ‘one and done’ companies across the FTSE 350 that have just one woman on their boards. There are 44 all-male executive committees across the FTSE 350.
The strongest performers in the FTSE 100 in terms of women in leadership positions were Burberry, Next, Severn Trent, ITV and WM Morrison Supermarkets. The poorest were Fresnillo, Imperial Brands, NMC Health, Ashtead Group and Reckitt Benckiser.
Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association said: “Great progress is being made with Women on Boards, but it’s time for us to aim higher.
“This pace of change now needs to extend beyond the board to senior executive leadership roles if businesses are to demonstrate their diversity at all levels.
“Investors have been consistent in their demands for greater diversity. It’s not just a nice to have. The research is clear: firms with diverse boards and management teams make better decisions, drive innovation and outperform their less diverse peers.”