Female-friendly employers named as progress of women in boardrooms stalls

Top 50 Employers for Women named

In an interview this week on BBC’s Newsnight, Facebook’s CFO Sheryl Sandberg, revealed how she’d come to notice a growing gender imbalance as she moved up the corporate ladder. As her new book Lean in, points out, 30 years after women became 50 per cent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions. This is just one of many reasons why the publication this week of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women list of the UK organisations that are leading the way in gender equality in the workplace is to be welcomed.

Another good reason is because progress appears to have stalled in promoting more women to executive levels.  According to the latest 2013 Cranfield Female FTSE board report from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders; after a short period of growth, complacency appears to be setting in when it comes to improving the number of women on the boards of the UK’s top companies.

In the first six months since the last report (March 2012), the pace of change was extremely encouraging with 44 per cent of new FTSE 100 board appointments going to women and 36 per cent on FTSE 250 companies. However, those high levels were short-lived and over the past six months they have dropped to 26 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

There are now 194 female-held directorships in 93 of the FTSE 100 boardrooms (held by 169 women) which equates to 17.3 per cent, a slight increase on last year’s figure of 15 per cent. The number of FTSE 100 companies with all-male boards has now dropped to seven and two thirds (67 per cent) of the FTSE 100 have more than one woman on their board

Hopefully those organisations which have no women at all on their boards would not pass the application process to make it onto the Top 50 Employers for Women list and supplement in The Times, which is produced in partnership with Opportunity Now, the gender campaign from Business in the Community.

To make the list, organisations are required to submit detailed information on their internal processes, as well as external activity that promotes gender equality, diversity and inclusion and create opportunities for women in a wider context.

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Acting Director of Opportunity Now the women at work campaign from Business in the Community, said: “All organisations included in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women must be praised for their commitment to the recruitment, retention and progression of their female talent.

“The high number of entries and high calibre of comprehensive activity made the judging process extremely competitive, but it is clear that this year’s Top 50 are leading the charge on organisational and cultural change, embedding accountability and delivery of activity at all levels, from the CEO to line managers.

“Inclusion in the list demonstrates how businesses are recognising the benefits in utilising, rewarding and progressing the talent and skill of men and women equally.”

The Times Top 50 Employers for Women demonstrated some or all of the following:

  • Strong leadership accountability for change.
  • Commercial case that encompasses business success and delivery
  • Mainstreaming activity throughout multiple function areas and peer levels
  • Organisational target setting
  • Holding managers to account
  • Changing culture, including through mandatory unconscious bias training
  • Integration of workforce metrics into planning processes and strategy
  • Comprehensive agile working schemes delivering business benefit
  • Tangible impact with qualitative/ quantitative evidence

The full report and Top 50 Employers for Women can be found here:

By Sara Bean