Only nine women-led companies in the FTSE 100, study finds

Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker reveals persistent lack of diversity at the top

Despite a drive for diversity at the top and numerous initiatives to support the advancement of women in the workplace, a new analysis reveals that only nine CEOs running FTSE 100 companies are women.

That’s according to a new analysis of the FTSE 100 from talent solutions consultancy Robert Half, which takes into account gender, career and education, age and nationality of the world’s most successful companies. world.

Of the nine female CEOs on the FTSE 100, four are from the financial sector, spanning insurance, banking and asset management. These include Italian-born Milena Mondini-de-Focatiis, 44, of Admiral Group, the youngest female CEO on the list, as well as Aviva’s Amanda Blanc, NatWest’s Alison Rose-Slade Group and Anne Farlow of Pershing Square Holdings. .

Leyla Tindall, Managing Director of Robert Half Executive Search, said:

Despite significant progress made by companies to improve the representation of women in recent years, there simply aren’t enough female bosses occupying the top positions in the UK’s most successful companies.

There are a myriad of reasons for this, but the biggest is the shortage of women in leadership positions – so shortlists for leadership positions are often not as diverse as they could be. While the introduction of shared parental leave and better support for returning women is encouraging, the time spent away from work to care for a family still holds back women, while their male counterparts continue to progress.

The road to the top

Research finds that 68% achieved the top spot through internal promotion, up from 46% in 2019, suggesting companies are improving their succession planning strategies. As most CEOs leave a leadership position in the same company, they are able to bring a deep understanding of the business to their new role, but other companies may choose to hire someone who can bring a deep understanding of the business to their new role. new perspective to the organization.

Once in a leadership position, executives may have a clear path to the top, but training can affect the likelihood of reaching the upper echelons of the business world. Almost half (47%) have some form of postgraduate degree, with 23% holding an MBA, showing that higher education still plays a role in career progression for seniors.

In previous years, as many as one in five CEOs (18%) had attended Oxford or Cambridge, but their dominance in the boardroom is fading with just four of the current list of FTSE 100 CEOs having been educated in these faculties.

Finance and accounting professionals are most likely to take the top spot

More than two-fifths of CEOs (42%) have a background in finance and banking, while only 19 of the top 100 companies belong to the financial sector. Among them, 16 CEOs are chartered accountants or chartered management accountants, making it by far the most common occupation at the top.

Speaking about the prevalence of finance professionals in the FTSE 100, Leyla Tindall commented:

In times of financial downturn, it becomes common to promote more chief financial officers (CFOs) to the top job, which could explain the high proportion of CEOs with a background in finance.

She added:

We find that CFOs are increasingly keen to take on the running of businesses, as the strategic mindset and financial acumen they bring are widely recognized as essential to navigating the businesses in times of financial downturn. However, as the economy improves, companies will seek to employ visionaries to focus on growth and recovery.

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