Just 4% of FTSE 350 CEOs are women

Published by The Pipeline, the report found that although the entry level recruitment into these business was generally evenly split between men and women, the journey to becoming CEO was “dominated by men”.

The report revealed that 74% of FTSE 350 executive committee members were men and 10% of companies had no female members at all. The chief financial officer role was “also more likely” to be filled by a man (82%).

It also found that 70% of businesses main boards have no female executive directors on them at all.

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This was the seventh annual instalment of the Women Count study, and analysts at Pipeline said “progress towards equality is glacially slow” during that time.

It stated: “Three out of four executives working their way up to CEO are men, looking upwards to other men for leadership, guidance, and promotion. Women executives have far fewer female role-models and fewer opportunities for promotion.”

Ursula Burns, chair of Teneo and former CEO of the Xerox Corporation, said in the report the struggle for equality takes many forms but progression towards a gender balance within the business world “is a vital part of it”.

One of the main findings was not just the rate of change but the absence of any tangible responsibility women had on company profit.

According to Pipeline, the percentage of women in profit and loss roles in FTSE 350 companies was 16.1%. These are positions with direct responsibility for the profitability of the organisation and returns for shareholders, as well as being a ‘stepping stone’ towards other high level roles.

Overall, 84% of P&L roles are filled by men, while nearly half of firms have no women in P&L positions.

Looking at the companies that did have women in senior positions, there was an obvious trickle-down effect of more women being promoted throughout the chain of command.

The report stated that companies with female CEOs are over four times more likely to appoint women executive directors onto their main board than companies with male CEOs. Overall, the proportion of female executives on the main board of a company with a female CEO was 63%, compared to 14% where the CEO is male.

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Authors of the report Lorna Fitzsimons and Margaret McDonagh said that today’s senior business leaders face “unprecedented headwinds of economic turmoil, disruption to supply chains, rising commodity prices and labour shortages”.

They added “no generation of CEOs has ever confronted such a range of challenges at the same time”, but despite this companies were “wilfully missing out on a source of profitability, talent and innovation which is readily available within the system.”

“To continue to systematically exclude women from senior management in top firms is an act of unbelievable folly.”

They said that for companies to prosper and succeed they not only needed to promote but retain female staff and talent.

“Take a hammer to the glass ceiling in your firm. Do not just talk about it, act,” they urged.

Fitzsimons and McDonagh added that when firm did take more decisions and progressive action on its gender equality policies “they often see the benefits immediately”.

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