It pays to have more women on the board, finds report

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​The UK economy is missing out on £47 billion in pre-tax profit due to a lack of women in top executive roles.

That’s according to gender diversity business The Pipeline, which found companies in the FTSE 350 with diverse leaderships perform better and have higher profit margins than those without.

Its Women Count 2020 report found companies with more than 33% female membership on the executive committee had a net profit margin over 10 times greater than companies with no women at this level.

Companies with no women on their executive committees had a net profit margin of 1.5%, whereas those with more than 33% women at this level reached a 15.2% net profit margin.

In April, there were just 13 women CEOs of FTSE 350 companies, a mere 5% of company leaders. There are currently more CEOs named Peter than there are female leaders.

Construction and retail were two of the worst performing sectors for gender diversity in senior roles.

Former prime minister Theresa May said: “There can be no good explanation for the massive underrepresentation of women at the top of British business – so it must change.

“Every single male CEO who looks around his boardroom table to see nine out of ten male faces staring back at him needs to ask himself what he is doing to make his business one which his daughter or granddaughter can get on in.

“Act now to change your businesses, to make the most of every talent, and to play your part in making our economy one which works for everyone.”

Just 11% of executive committee members in construction are women, a year-on-year drop of 2% and the lowest proportion of women on executive committees out of all industries.

This was followed by retail, which has a rate of 24% for female memberships.

The Pipeline argued that for businesses to survive the current crisis and impending recession, executive committees need to promote more women.

Speaking to HR magazine, Ed Griffin, director of HR, consultancy and research at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) said HR leaders need to have the courage to address the issues their organisations and our wider society are facing today.

He said: “Practical actions need to be proposed and implemented, such as paying as much attention to the diversity of your non-execs/trustees as your exec directors and recruit for diversity in both groups.

“Pay attention to the diversity of those presenting to the board. It’s important they get to see the broadest range of talent in action.”

Griffin also pointed out that some businesses do not let their senior managers choose who they recruit so they cannot recruit in their own image.

He added: “HR should look for ways of assessing psychological safety at work. If you want to encourage genuine diversity, then people need to feel safe enough to be themselves at work.

“Work with the top team on the kind of climate they generate and the impact that has on others and look for the examples of high performing organisations that have enabled and leveraged diversity.”

Further reading:

FTSE 350 lagging behind on women in senior leadership

Women on FTSE boards serve shorter and less senior tenures

Women work harder but progress less at work

Boris Johnson pledges to help women reach "full potential" at work

Hot Topic: Female leadership in a time of crisis

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