UK leads on boardroom diversity, but still less than 10% of execs are women

Less than 10 percent of leading UK companies have women in executive roles, but this figure is almost double the international average.

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Less than 10 percent of leading UK companies have women in executive roles, but this figure is almost double the international average.

The UK is in the top five for placing women on boards, with a 98.6 percent representation across leading enterprises in comparison to the global average of 67.8 percent.

But only 8.9 percent of these companies have women as executive directors or board chairs The rest are non executive directors. Internationally, the average drops to half of that, with just 3.9 percent of the most influential and affluent companies seeing women making pivotal decisions.

The study included over 500 companies from the US, Asia and rest of the world, covering 1,000 companies in over 40 countries. The study found that for the first time, Europe is leading the world in board diversity - though numbers of female executives on boards appear to have plateaued.

Sven Petersen, head of the CIO practice at consultancy firm Egon Zehnder UK, which conducted the research, pointed out that the issue was especially tricky for tech companies.

He said: “The most senior functional leadership roles in technology, the CIO and CTO, are particularly challenged from a diversity perspective in comparison to most other functions and commercial roles.

“However, tech savvy executives are becoming more central to the growth of almost every business and therefore it’s vital that companies do more to develop their pipeline of talented women. Currently, the CIO route is a less well trodden path to CEO, but we expect this to change in particular in organisations where ‘technology is the business’.

“Egon Zehnder UK has set a voluntary goal of having 25 female CEOs in the FTSE 100 by 2025 and many of those are likely to rise up through functional roles."

However, the act of placing women in non-executive roles on the board has been criticised as a means to mask the core problem with attracting and retaining female recruits in the middle to senior leadership levels of companies.

American Express recently told ComputerworldUK that it is looking at branding changes to attract more women into tech roles within its company.

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