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COVID-19 Pandemic Stalls UK Progress in Promoting More Women to Leadership Roles

Women account for only 5% of chief executive officer positions.

Image source: The Pipeline

A newly-released report found that the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled the UK’s progress in promoting more women to leadership roles. 

Published Wednesday by gender diversity company The Pipeline, the Women Count 2021 looked at the makeup of the FTSE 350 — an index comprising the constituents of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 — which include the largest UK listed companies.

The report, now in its sixth year, noted that while “women are in a better position than five years ago,” the rate of change slowed down over the past 15 months. At the current pace, women will not achieve gender parity with men on executive committees until 2036, four years longer than The Pipeline’s previous prediction.

“The pandemic provided an opportunity to push forward with meaningful change, but instead we have gone backwards and the prospect for women seeking advancement to the senior echelons of FTSE 350 companies looks as desolate as ever,” the report said.

Key Findings

  • Women account for only 5% of chief executive officer positions and 17% of chief financial officer roles
  • Men make up 78% of all executive committee roles, compared with 22% for women
  • 70% of companies do not have any women executives from the companies on their boards of directors

The report also criticized companies for failing to advance women to more senior jobs, despite statistics showing businesses with an equal gender balance are more profitable. It went on to say the UK’s economy will not bounce back as quickly from the pandemic.

According to The Pipeline, companies in which at least 50% of board members were women saw a profit margin of 21.2%.

Further, firms without any women on executive committees saw a 17.5% dip in profits.

In a statement, Margaret McDonagh, co-founder of The Pipeline, said, “Women Count 2021 shows that without decisive action, the future is looking grim for both women who want to be the next boss and the wider economy. Evidence of this lies in the incredibly low level of women who are in executive committee roles with profit and loss responsibility, which are critical pre-CEO positions, a situation that remains largely unchanged in the last 12 months.”

Amanda Blanc, chief executive officer of Aviva Plc, said in the report, “Across the board, companies are falling woefully short” of being gender diverse organizations.

“I understand this is not easy. Unpicking generations of inequality takes time,” Blanc said. “There are still various barriers standing in the way of women progressing, particularly in roles responsible for profit and loss. But, parity is genuinely possible.”


Source: Equities News

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