Flow of Women Executives Through the Talent Pipeline Increases

The number of women on FTSE 100 executive committees has soared by 40% over the last year.

The 2007 Female FTSE research by Cranfield School of Management also reveals that the number of female-held directorships has increased from 117 in 2006 to 123 this year, and that the proportion of women among new appointments has increased substantially over the last year, with 20% of new FTSE 100 director appointments going to women – the highest level since the first benchmarking report was published in 2000.

The number of women holding directorships has broken the 100 barrier for the first time with 100 women in 123 positions

The 2007 figures will be announced on November 14 when a Good Practice Guide to Inclusive Boardrooms, written by Cranfield for the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, will also be launched.
In the Female FTSE Index, companies with the highest percentage of female board directors include first place Sainsbury’s (three female NEDS making up 30% of its board), closely followed by Astrazeneca,  British Airways and ITV, all with three NEDS but slightly larger boards with women accounting for 27.3%. During the month after the data was collected British American Tobacco appointed two new female directors taking its percentage of women on the board to 30%, which would put it equal first with Sainsbury.

While the proportion of female-held directorships is still low (11%), the report highlights how the composition and balance of FTSE 100 boards has changed since 2000. Both the number of executive directorships and total number of directorships are at their lowest levels for seven years, while the number of non-executive positions are at their highest level – one consequence of the Higgs Review designed to encourage boardroom diversity.

It is here that women have made great progress with 110 female NEDS in 2007, compared to 60 in 2000. Professor Susan Vinnicombe attributed this progress to a number of prominent Chairmen, Chief Executives and women directors who have actively engaged in championing the gender diversity debate, mentored aspiring women directors and managed their boards in exemplary ways

Last year the Female FTSE examined, for the first time, the make-up of the executive committee (the senior team chaired by the CEO) to analyse the talent pipeline to the main board. It reported that only 53 companies had females on their executive committee, a total of 70 women. This has increased to 60 companies in 2007, with 122 women making up 16% of senior executives, an increase of 40% on 2006.

Report co-author Ruth Sealy from Cranfield School of Management said the increase was encouraging, but needs to be built on:
“Not only is there a substantial increase in the number of women at executive committee level, women are also employed in an increasing variety of roles on these committees. This increase brings a considerable addition to the talent pool and it will be interesting to monitor how long it takes for these women to emerge from the pipeline and into female executive director roles.”

Co-author Dr Val Singh said the value of having women in senior positions must not be underestimated:
“If companies grow their own talent, thereby increasing the range of perspectives, behaviours and solutions available at the top, this will also provide role models and inspiration to women lower down, helping retention and attracting the best new talent.”

Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman said:

“As this report shows we have made real progress in getting more women into boardrooms. But one in four boards has no women so we still have further to go.
“British business at all levels must become more family friendly. This will enable men as well as women to play a more active role in their children’s lives and enable women to fulfill their potential at work. This cultural change has to be led from the top and we will never see it while our businesses are led by men only boards.”
The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology has produced a Good Practice Guide to Inclusive Boardrooms to coincide with the publication of the Female FTSE which details key recommendations for developing female talent within SET. Written by Dr Singh it details specific practices that organisations should undertake to develop a more inclusive, and therefore effective, boardroom culture.

Annette Williams, Director of the UKRC, said:

“As the report clearly states there are too few women on SET boards. The UKRC and the Good Practice Guide is dedicated to identifying a number of best practices to improve the boardroom culture for all involved and ideas on how to develop women and men in preparation for entry into the boardroom. This will enable companies to implement easy to manage steps and make inroads into changing the make up of SET boardrooms now and in the future.”
Both reports can be downloaded here


Article provided by Cranfield School of Management


Cranfield School of Management is a world-class university business school, renowned for its strong links with industry and business. It is committed to providing practical management solutions through a range of activities including postgraduate degree programmes, management development, research and consultancy.

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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