Released today (14 July), a new report by diversity and inclusion specialist The Pipeline has found gender equality in the FTSE 350 is needed to progress the UK’s COVID-19 financial recovery.
COVID-19’s impact on gender equality:
Companies with women making up at least 50% of the executive committee secured a profit margin of 21.2%.
In contrast, FTSE 350 companies without women on their executive committees suffered on average a fall in profits of 17.5%.
Lorna Fitzsimon, co-founder of The Pipeline, said if companies continue to ignore the importance of gender diversity at the top, the UK will suffer financially and struggle to bounce back quickly from the pandemic.
Speaking to HR magazine, Fitzsimon said HR teams must step up and actively work to gain gender parity within their organisation.
She said: “Most HR directors will tell you that they don’t have a problem recruiting women but there are organisational problems promoting them.
“HR teams try their best to create the right conditions to provide talent pipelines for organisations but without CEOs full backing, behaviours meeting words, and critical investment, these figures will not improve.”
During the last 12 months, Fitzsimon said the pace of change has gone backward and has resulted in a loss of four years’ worth of gender equality progress.
“It will now be 2036 before we hit gender parity, and therefore The Pipeline is calling for HRDs to sit on company main boards.
“Firstly, as many HRDs are women we immediately get the uplift in numbers of women on those boards.
“Secondly, they are the best placed to understand what is and isn’t working to create opportunities for talented women in their organisations,” explained Fitzsimon.
The Women Count 2021 report also highlighted that UK businesses are failing to make progress on gender diversity at the top of organisations, with women accounting for just 5% of CEO positions in FTSE 350 companies.
This is only a small rise from last year’s low figure of 4% and is continuing a trend of slow incremental growth.
Margaret McDonagh, co-founder of The Pipeline, said without decisive action, the future is looking uninviting for women who want to become leaders and the wider economy.
She said: “Evidence of this lies in the incredibly low-level of women who are in executive committee roles with profit and loss responsibility.
“These roles are critical pre-CEO positions, a situation that remains largely unchanged in the last 12 months.”
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