Nearly half of companies outside the FTSE 350 have fewer than a third of women board members, and three-quarters of the boards are entirely white. According to the Hidden Truth report, most UK executives are white men, despite greater action to diversify corporate leadership teams.
The hidden truth report
The Hidden Truth report, by Women on Boards in the UK, now in its second year and published in partnership with consulting firm Protiviti, monitors the gender and ethnic minority representation on FTSE all-share boards – the 252 companies below the largest 350 companies (ex350).
The report calls for ongoing and deeper scrutiny across all UK-listed companies to provide an accurate picture of boardroom diversity.
“Board diversity is increasingly viewed as a baseline requirement for modern companies, so it’s incredibly disheartening to see stagnant progress in some areas. There remains a high number of firms yet to reach even the most minimal levels of diverse representation at both executive and non-executive levels. To these firms, I say, catch up – and quickly,” says Fiona Hathorn, CEO of Women on Boards.
A lack of diverse leadership
The report shows that 50% of the smaller firms – the 252 companies below the largest 350 companies – have all-male leadership teams.
Key points of the research reveal that:
- 50% of UK firms in FTSE all-share ex350 have no women in C-suite positions
- 44% of firms have not achieved the target of 33% women on boards
- A quarter of boards (25%) have one director of colour, up from 16% in 2021 – but 75% of boards are entirely white
- Companies with women CEOs have significantly more gender-balanced executive teams than those with male CEOs – 55% vs 14%, respectively
The EU will get a march on the UK
At the smaller 252 companies, only 16% of board chairs are women, and just 7% of chief executives are women – a constant since 2021.
Just 8% of executive leaders are from UK ethnic minority backgrounds.
Hathorn said the European Union was “going to get a march on us” after announcing that companies with more than 250 employees will face mandatory quotas to ensure women have at least 40% of seats on corporate boards.
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