A 50-50 gender split on Global Executive Committees is the only goal that matters - Katie Litchfield - WeQual

A 50-50 gender split on Global Executive Committees is the only goal that matters
– Katie Litchfield

Posted by - Katie Litchfield

Published 25-02-2021

Yesterday, the Hampton-Alexander Review – which was set up to shine a spotlight on the representation of women in senior leadership positions – reported that the number of women on boards has risen 50% since the first review five years ago.

This is great news. In the last five years, we have started to see a positive shift in attitude towards gender diversity on boards and in executive committees. From last month, there are now no more all-male boards in the FTSE 350.   

But we are a long way from where we should be. We must aim for 50-50 gender equality on executive committees. And not just in the UK, but globally.

In the last five years, we have started to see a positive shift in attitude towards gender diversity on boards and in executive committees. From last month, there are now no more all-male boards in the FTSE 350.  

The Review was my inspiration for the WeQual Awards. The visionaries who set it up, and those business leaders who have championed it over the last five years, have helped make redressing the lack of women in leadership positions a top priority.

WeQual identifies, highlights and supports these already successful women who directly report into their executive committees. WeQual has over 120 women who have the leadership traits to make it to the top and nine WeQual women have been promoted to executive committees since launching in 2019.

And we should celebrate this. But let’s not get carried away because there is a long way still to go.

Still, just 26.5% of executive committee members are women in FTSE 100 companies – and fewer still (21.7%) in FTSE 250 companies, the 2021 Review reveals. And only 31.2% of direct reports to ExCo members in FTSE 100 (29.7% in FTSE 250 companies) are women.

We are 20-plus years into the 21st century, and barely over one in five members of FTSE 250 executive committees is a woman. 

And then there is the question of how much influence women have at the top. There are just 8 women CEOs in the FTSE 100, only two more than in 2016. And only 9 in the FTSE 250 – exactly the same as in 2017.

WeQual has over 120 women who have the leadership traits to make it to the top and nine WeQual women have been promoted to executive committees since launching in 2019.

What progress that has been made in the last five years has been at a small group of companies that have embraced change. For example, more than 80% of FTSE 250 companies failed to reach the Hampton-Alexander Review’s targets for leadership. Likewise, 63% of FTSE 100 companies also failed to reach the same target.

With this being the last Hampton-Alexander report we stand at a critical point. Let’s keep pushing for change.


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