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Corporate data on gender is pivotal to progress

24 July 2017 by Denise Wilson

Corporate data on gender is pivotal to progress - read more

Firms should create change by submitting gender-leadership data, says the Hampton-Alexander Review's Denise Wilson.

The Hampton-Alexander Review – an independent body building on the excellent work of the Davies Review to increase the number of women on FTSE 350 boards – has a new focus: to boost the number of senior female leaders.

The first Hampton-Alexander report was published in 2016 and set out recommendations for FTSE 350 companies to improve the representation of women in leadership positions.

The report not only backed the Davies Review’s increased voluntary target of 33% women on FTSE 350 boards, but set a new target of 33% women on FTSE 100 executive committees, and direct reports to the executive committee by 2020. This year’s report on progress will be published early in November.

This next stage of the journey is not without problems and will be stretching for some. The important thing is for every company to understand its data, have a clear plan of action and continually measure progress.

Many companies are already striding ahead, and many others have robust initiatives in place and are working hard to improve their gender balance. Few companies these days doubt the business case for a more even gender balance at the top of organisations, or that the direction of travel is the right one.

Voluntary disclosures and the regular reporting of progress, transparency and the sharing of initiatives to increase the number of women in leadership roles, have been pivotal to progress.

Since 2011, more than 550 women have been newly appointed to FTSE 350 boards and that number continues to grow. When the Davies Review was launched there were 152 all-male boards in the FTSE 350; today there are just six, albeit six too many.

They are Centamin, Daejan Holdings, Euromoney Institutional Investor, Sports Direct International, TBC Bank and Stobart Group.

“Few companies these days doubt the business case for a more even gender balance at the top of organisations”

Although the composition of FTSE boards is publicly available information, and also reported by BoardEx and elsewhere, this is not the case for the composition of FTSE 350 executive committees or direct reports to the executive committee.

To provide accurate year-on-year reporting on progress towards the 33% target, all FTSE 350 companies are therefore asked to submit their gender data via a new section of the Hampton-Alexander website.

The Government, through the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is supporting the Review and sent out a request for gender data in June to all FTSE 350 companies.

The letter was from the Hampton-Alexander Review, addressed to the FTSE company CEO, with copies to the chair and company secretary and/or HR director where contact details were available.

It asked for details of the number of men and women in leadership and the turnover in that same demographic, and set out the process for registering on the Hampton-Alexander portal and submitting data.

Last year, more than 240 FTSE companies submitted their gender data. From this the baseline was established, and realistic but stretching targets were developed. This year we anticipate all FTSE 350 companies will submit their gender data on the new, simplified online portal.

Just to be clear, this is a request made by the independent Hampton-Alexander Review on gender representation, and this is not the same as gender pay gap reporting. Gender pay gap reporting is a legislative requirement that came into force in April and applies to all companies in Great Britain with 250 or more employees.

The Hampton-Alexander Review looks forward to sharing progress and best practice when its report is published later in the year.

In the meantime, we encourage all companies not only to harness the different perspectives and strong skillsets of women, but also to address the significant underemployment of women and costly loss of their skills to British business and the economy.

Companies are invited to submit their data on the number of male and female leaders and turnover in that same demographic via the new portal. Find it at: ftsewomenleaders.com

Denise Wilson is Chief Executive of the Hampton-Alexander Review

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