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17th July 2019

Average female director’s tenure is half that of a male director

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Women are being appointed to board levels in FTSE 100 companies for ‘symbolic value’ as they serve a shorter tenure than their male counterparts.

These findings came to light from the 2019 Female FTSE Board Report published by Cranfield University. The report found the average tenure of a female executive director in the UK was just 3.3 years, compared to 6.6 years for their male counterparts.

This gap narrows slightly when considering non-executive directors – those without day-to-day management responsibilities –  who have an average tenure of 3.8 years for women and 4.3 years for men.

Concerns over the number of ethnic minority women on boards were also raised in the report. Based on the data available, of the 297 female directors on FTSE 100 boards at present, just 32 (11 per cent) are from a BAME background. Women did tend to come from a more diverse set of backgrounds when it came to education, however.

The report, which looked at the number of women on the boards of FTSE 350 companies, as well as the roles of senior non-executive directors in FTSE 100 companies, echoed the broadly positive findings of the latest Hampton-Alexander review that found a marked improvement in the percentage of women on FTSE 350 boards.

It said the proportion of women reached 32.1 per cent among FTSE 100 boards and 27.3 per cent in the FTSE 250, with both groups set to meet the government target of 33 per cent by 2020.

Top end diversity has been a major ongoing issue. Despite the progress that’s been made, there is still a long way to go to achieve senior level gender parity. Diversity targets are a positive step to increase women in leadership, but there needs to be a change in organisational culture in many organisations.

Although there is no single path to success, there are a range of initiatives you can implement to help your organisation achieve top level gender diversity. Examples include offering flexible working models, setting up sponsorship programmes, and ensuring all staff have unconscious bias training.

In 2017 one of our Financial Services Members set a formal target of at least 40% women in senior leadership roles by 2020, and to achieve gender parity by 2023.

Our Member has realised that setting targets alone will not deliver change. So, to ensure they have the right enablers in place, have set up several initiatives. These include, launching a development programme to provide tailored support, offering women a Senior Executive mentor, workshops and webinars. As well as, running a number of sessions highlighting the experiences of senior women in their business and allowing an open place to discuss barriers.