NEWS17 June 2021

Less gender diversity within smaller company boards, finds study

Inclusion News UK

UK – Fewer than half of the companies listed in the FTSE All-Share index have met the target of 33% women on boards, according to analysis from Women on Boards UK.

woman working on a laptop in a board room

The report on diversity in the FTSE All-Share, excluding the FTSE 350, found that 31% of board members are female. Only 48% of companies have met the target of 33% female board directors, compared to two-thirds ( 65%) of FTSE 350 companies.

The government-led Hampton-Alexander review set a target of 33% representation of women on FTSE 350 boards, in executive committee and direct reports by the end of 2020.

The FTSE All-Share comprises the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and FTSE Small Cap, meaning it includes much smaller companies.

The analysis from Women on Boards also found that only 7% of chief executives and 16% of chairs in the FTSE All-Share companies, excluding the FTSE 350, are women.

Additionally, outside of the FTSE 350, over half ( 54%) of companies in the FTSE All-Share have all-male executive leadership teams, compared with 8% of the FTSE 350 companies, while only 3% of board members are ‘directors of colour’ (male or female).

Fiona Hathorn, chief executive, Women on Boards UK, said: “While progress has been made over the past several years, much of this has been driven by the largest companies. There are many smaller listed companies who, with a collective market capitalisation value of £63bn, have a significant impact on the UK economy. To accelerate diversity and close the gender pay gap we must look beyond the FTSE 350 and ensure that every company in the FTSE All-Share is held accountable to change.”

The report also analysed gender pay gap data across the FTSE All-Share (the FTSE 350 and the 261 companies below them), finding that the average (mean) gender pay gap in 2020 was 20.2% for the FTSE 350 companies required to report, and 17.3% for the remainder of the FTSE All-Share compared to a national average of 13.7% (according to pay gap specialist Spktral). 

Hathorn added: “Gender pay gap reports are indicative of whether a company is acting inclusively with strong corporate governance. While there are companies in the FTSE All-Share working hard to close their gender pay gap, many more companies need to seriously up their game on equal pay.”

Data on the board and executive leadership of the FTSE All-Share excluding the FTSE 350 was sourced from companies’ own websites or investment trust fact sheets. The research was conducted during January and February 2021, based on companies in the FTSE All-Share at the end of December 2020. 

Gender pay gap data was taken either from each company’s website or the government’s statutory reporting website from reports submitted in 2020 (the majority of the FTSE All-Share firms required to report did so, despite the government’s suspension of the requirement during Covid-19 ).