FTSE 100 makes progress on ESG front but female leadership still too low

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FTSE 100 constituents are making progress on the ESG front, two separate reports are showing, but are far from achieving gender equality.


Only eight women are chief executives and 15 chief financial officers or finance directors.


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GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LSE:GSK), Admiral Group Plc (LSE:ADM), Severn Trent (LSE:SVT) Plc, ITV PLC (LSE:ITV), NatWest Group PLC (LSE:NWG), Aviva PLC (LSE:AV.), Whitbread PLC (LSE:WTB) and Entain PLC (LSE:ENT) are the ones headed by a female chief executive.


The percentage of female executive directors has flatlined for a second year at 13.7%, according to research by the Cranfield School of Management.


Women represent 38% of total board members in the index, though a fifth of the companies has yet to meet the Hampton Alexander target of 33% female representation on their boards.


The Hampton-Alexander Review has provided government-backed monitoring and scrutiny of boardroom diversity in the FTSE 350 since 2016, and set such a goal to be achieved by 2020.


Female non-executive directors fared much better this year, having reached an all-time high at 44% according to the Cranfield report.


“Women on boards encourage the appointment of women into executive roles, and the other way around. Talent management and robust succession planning are vital if women and other diverse people are to be promoted into executive roles,” said Professor Sue Vinnicombe, professor at the school and lead author of the report.


“There is clearly now a pipeline of experienced women NEDs, so why are so few of them promoted to leadership of the board? I am sure that all Chairs and CEOs of FTSE companies understand the business case for gender diversity at an intellectual level, but do they really believe in it, and are they willing to invest serious effort into achieving it?”


Meanwhile, a study by Alvarez & Marsal has revealed that 61% of FTSE 100 bonus plans now have some form of ESG component.


The number of firms using an ESG measure in a long-term incentive plan increased from 15% last year to 32% in the latest set of annual reports.

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