FTSE 250 under fire over female board representation

There remain four companies in the FTSE 250 with all-male boards, and too many have a ‘one and done’ approach to increasing the proportion of women in senior leadership roles, according to the latest analysis from the independent review body backed by government

Data from the Hampton-Alexander review shows that currently 32.1% of FTSE 100 board positions are held by women, up from 12.5% in 2011. Meanwhile in the FTSE 250, the figures have increased from 24.9% to 27.5%.

At its launch in 2016, the review set FTSE 350 businesses a target of having 33% of all board and senior leadership positions held by women by the end of 2020.

The latest figures suggest that FTSE 100 companies are on track to meet this target, but concerns remain that some are making only token improvements.

Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the review said: ‘The FTSE 250 is working hard to catch up but still too many boards have only one woman and remarkably today there are four all male boards in the FTSE 250.’
These are property company Daejan Holdings, TR Property Investments, iron ore miner Ferrexpo, and Kainos Group, the software company which joined the FTSE on 24 June.

Earlier this year the Investment Association (IA) and the Hampton-Alexander Review jointly wrote to 69 companies in the FTSE 350 with one woman or less on their board, outlining concerns about the lack of gender diversity.

Since then, 20 have appointed women while more than half of respondents confirmed they are committed to achieving the 33% target either by 2020 or in the near future. However, 14 companies have not responded.
Chris Cummings, chief executive of the IA, said: ‘It is especially disappointing that 14 companies are still falling so far short of shareholder expectations by having just a single woman on their board.

‘Adopting this “one and done” attitude is not good enough, and investors expect companies to up their game and explain clearly how they will set this right going forward.’

The 14 companies who have failed to respond with information about their plans to increase female board representation are Baillie Gifford Japan Trust, BCA Marketplace, Energean Oil & Gas, Ferrexpo, Grafton Group, Herald Investment Trust, Hochschild Mining, Jupiter European Opportunities Trust, Rank Group, Riverstone Energy, Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund, Telecom Plus, TR Property Investments, and Tritax Big Box REIT.

Today, 1 July, marks the portal opening for FTSE 350 companies to submit their senior leadership gender representation data to the Hampton-Alexander review. Companies have until 31 July  to lodge the gender split of their executive committee, and the direct reports to the executive committee online. The 2019 report will be published in November.

By Pat Sweet

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