An academic from Queen Mary University of London has contributed to a major new report published by Cranfield University which shows that there are only five female CEOs in the FTSE 100.
Dr Elena Doldor, Reader in Organisational Behaviour in the School of Business and Management, and member of Queen Mary's Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity, co-authored the report.
The report found that voluntary targets have boosted gender diversity on UK boards, but there are still too few women in senior leadership positions, such as CEO and Chair, to drive long-term change.
The annual Female FTSE Board Report finds that although the FTSE 350 looks on track to reach the target of 33% of women on boards by December 2020, a lack of representation at the top could be impacting the number of women in the executive pipeline.
The Female FTSE Board Report is produced annually by Cranfield University’s School of Management; which has been monitoring trends in women’s representation on FTSE 350 boards since 1998.
The 2020 report also found that targets are now established as normal business practice but are usually set internally. Dr Elena Doldor from Queen Mary's School of Business and Management said: "Targets don’t threaten meritocracy, they enable it. Our research indicates that when used ambitiously and systemically, targets can unroot bias across key talent management processes and contribute to genuine culture change.
"For targets to become more robust, it is critical that organisations put in place accountability mechanisms for their meeting their targets and address the long-term impact of the pandemic on women’s careers."
The report also found that organisations need to address the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on women's careers. The authors called for greater accountability by UK boards to accelerate progress on diversity.
Sue Vinnicombe, Professor of Women and Leadership at Cranfield University, and lead author of the report, said: "This year our research establishes that it is not sufficient just to have a critical mass of women Non-Executive Directors on a board in order to increase the number of women in the executive pipeline. There need to be women in influential roles such as Executive Directors.
"The added dimension of Covid-19 means organisations must be pro-active to address the long-term impact of the pandemic on women’s careers. With more focus on flexible working and wellbeing, it is an opportunity to progress the diversity agenda."
The report, which focused on the 12 months up to 1 June 2020, found:
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