Fewer than 10 per cent of CEOs at UK FTSE 350 companies are female, according to a new study on the scale of gender disparity in business.
Women also hold fewer than 20 per cent – or one in five – commercial roles on FTSE 350 boards and executive committees, the Pipeline’s Women Count report has found.
Analysts found that women were less likely to hold influential executive roles, such as CEO or have profit and loss responsibilities, meaning they weren’t making key decisions.
Instead, female board members were likely to be limited to so-called ‘functional roles’ like HR or marketing, meaning they missed out on securing CEO-track jobs, The Pipeline said.
Pipeline chairwoman Sue O’Brien said progress towards gender parity was “glacial” and a “serious cause for concern”, as she urged firms to look into the “uncomfortable truths”.
Programme director Margaret Edge said: “The glass ceiling is far from being smashed. It may be cracked, but it’s still firmly in place in the majority of organisations… we are calling on businesses to set measurable targets on gender parity and executive leadership roles.”
Women made up 30 per cent of FTSE 350 board roles for the first time, the Women Count report found, but it came as just 13 per cent of the FTSE 100 boasted a female CEO.
Across the FTSE 350, just nine per cent of firms have a female CEO – up from four per cent in 2019, and just 18 per cent of the FTSE 350 have a female chief financial officer.
Transport, health and insurance firms notably achieved above 40 per cent women on boards. While others, including IT, automobile, mining and private equity, appeared behind the curve with less than 20 per cent of board roles held by women.
Asked about their workplace experiences, senior women cited culture, poor organisational support, and a lack of flexibility, as key obstacles to progression.
Fawcett Society chief executive Jemima Olchawski said recent research had found there were zero women of colour working as FTSE 100 CEOs which she called “scandalous”.
Olchawski commented: “Women continue to be locked out of power and influence in numbers that beggar belief.
“It’s no surprise that this study has found such a tiny proportion of FTSE 350 executive roles are held by women when workplaces are designed to work for men.”
Minister for Women, Maria Caulfield, said the government had launched the STEM ReCharge pilot programme to help parents and carers back into STEM roles.
“Empowering women to flourish in business is not only the right thing to do, but is of great benefit to the UK economy,” she said.
Labour were contacted for comment.