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Equalities and Rights Equalities and Rights

Push for an increase in the number of women sitting on boards of companies

Last updated: 10:42am 19 January 2019

…and we shall push for an increase in the number of women sitting on boards of companies.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.56

Our verdict

It’s estimated that bridging the UK gender gap in work has the potential to increase GDP by £150 billion by 2025, and increasing the number of women on company boards is seen as an important part of that process. However, many boards still lack significant numbers of women.

To fulfil this policy promise, we are looking for government-backed efforts to promote the recruitment of women to corporate leadership positions.

The government continues to support the independent Hampton-Alexander Review initiated in 2016, whose target is to have 33% of board positions at FTSE 350 companies (the 350 most prosperous UK companies) held by women by 2020.

Although the top 100 FTSE companies seem on track to achieve that goal (women on boards made up 30.2% of members in October 2018), there are concerns that the FTSE 350 may struggle to follow suit; 5 boards are still all-male, and half of all leadership appointments would need to go to women by 2020 in order for the target to be reached.

The government has also backed the Women’s Business Council, whose Men as Change Agents initiative, encourages men to become active in increasing the proportion of women in corporate leadership roles.

The policy promises to “push for” an increase in the number of women on boards without mentioning specific targets. We are marking this as ‘done’, because efforts have been made and progress demonstrated, despite the absence of quantifiable policy targets. We’ll keep tracking, so follow this policy for updates.

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