Fewer than one in 10 executive directors at Britain’s top companies are female, research shows, but the UK is better at promoting women to CEO roles than leading economies such as Germany and France.
While there has been a major increase in female representation in Britain’s boardrooms over the past few years, with more than 30% of non-executive directorships at FTSE 100 companies now held by women, critics have deplored the lack of progress in promoting women to executive roles.
Analysis by the executive search firm MWM Consulting shows that less than 10% of executive directors at FTSE 100 companies are female, up from 5.5% in 2011. Among mid-sized companies in the FTSE 250 index, progress has been even slower, with female executives representing 5.2% of board membership, compared with 4.2% in 2011.
The UK is second only to Sweden when it comes to the proportion of female chief executives at listed companies, with women holding the top job at 5.5% of FTSE 100 firms and 4.2% of FTSE 250 companies.
Britain has outperformed the US, where female CEOs account for 4% of companies listed on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
In Germany, France, Norway and Switzerland, there is not a single female chief executive among the top listed companies.
Sweden, which has formal quotas for female boardroom representation, leads the global ranking. Women make up 7% of corporate leaders on the Stockholm OMX index.
Véronique Laury became the chief executive of B&Q owner Kingfisher in January, joining a small group of female CEOs that includes Liv Garfield at water company Severn Trent, Moya Greene at Royal Mail, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco and Carolyn McCall at easyJet. Alison Brittain has been appointed as the chief executive of Whitbread, which owns Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, and will take up her post on Monday.
Michael Reyner, the managing partner at MWM, said: “The UK is doing better than most other leading economies in appointing women to the top jobs. But much more needs to be done by companies to improve the pipeline of senior women. This requires a strong commitment from boards and chief executives, more supportive and less male-centric working practices, and cultural change to tackle unconscious bias.”
This article was written by Julia Kollewe, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 29th December 2015 19.02 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010