Push to widen FTSE board diversity

The 30% Club, which has been campaigning for better representation for women on boards for a decade, has announced new diversity targets for UK companies over the next three years, including greater BAME representation at the top level in big companies

While the body remains committed to its existing global mission, for at least 30% representation of all women on all boards and C-suites globally, it has added three targets for the UK to reach by the end of 2023.

These are to have at least one BAME board member in every FTSE 350 company, with half these seats going to women, creating 175 board seats for women of colour, with a similar target for FTSE 350 executive committees.

The group also wants to see beyond 30% of all new FTSE 350 chair appointments to go to women between now and 2023.

Ann Cairns, global chair of the 30% Club said: ‘There has clearly been good progress on gender diversity on boards over the last decade and the 30% Club is proud to have contributed to this.

‘However, further progress is needed and now is definitely not the time to step off the gas. There is so much data showing that diverse companies outperform. That is why leading companies continue to push for more than 30% women on their boards and management teams, and diverse representation at all levels, while publishing their pay gaps.

‘Disappointingly though, in 2020 leadership of our business world still doesn’t reflect our wider population and we are not harnessing the wonderful talents of people who think differently, have different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and many other differences.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with anti-racist protests that have been held in cities across the UK over the last month, in solidarity with US campaigners for Black Lives Matter – and renewed focus on race relations globally – are creating much needed focus on the inequalities in our societies.

‘The glass ceiling is still pervasive and women of colour face some of the greatest hurdles of all. It’s a time of change, a time of acceleration, where we can build a much better world for everyone.

‘That’s why the 30% Club is looking beyond our original goals and reaching for equality. We want to be clear that we believe in a business world which includes ALL women and being explicit about women of colour in our UK goals.’

In 2010, when the 30% Club was established, women held 9.5% of FTSE 350 board positions on average. The group says women now hold 32% of board seats on average but over a third (127 companies) of individual FTSE 350 boards remain below the original 30% target. Furthermore, women are still significantly under-represented as chairs and CEOs and only hold 20% of FTSE 350 executive committees roles, which the 30% Club says confirms more focus is needed to achieve inclusive cultures that retain female talent to management positions.

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