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‘54% of FTSE ex350 boards are all male’ — and it’s 2021

The gender pay gap isn’t going anywhere.

Allie Nawrat


FTSE companies
Credit: Travelarium via Twenty20.

Women are still not properly represented at board or senior leadership level. Unleash Your Diversity

  • Women on Boards UK has found that success in FTSE 350 is not mirrored in other FTSE All-Share companies.
  • There is a particular concern about leadership team diversity.
  • So what can companies do to ensure their D,E&I policies are meaningful?

Although there has been some success in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion across FTSE companies, it’s clear that progress has not been evenly distributed between organizations, and the world is far from ‘job done’.

Research by Women on Boards UK found that although there has been progress in terms of board and leadership team diversity across FTSE 350 All-share companies, there has been less success in the remaining 261 companies in the FTSE All-share.

Women on Boards UK’s ‘The Hidden Truth’ report found that only 48% of FTSE All-Share ex350 companies had met the target of 33% women on their boards, compared to 65% of FTSE 350.

Unfortunately, the report becomes even more bleak when talking about ethnic minority representation on boards. Only 3% of FTSE ex350 companies had ethnic minorities – this means 46 people in total – and only 16% of all companies had any ethnic minority board representation at all.

The gender diversity situation is even more concerning in terms of diverse leadership and executive teams. While only 8% of FTSE 350 companies had all-male leadership teams, this rises to 54% for the FTSE ex350.

In addition, only 7% of these FTSE ex350 companies had female CEOs and just 18% of their general top executive team were female.

This is worrying given that a diverse leadership team has more influence on company culture and D,E&I initiatives than those on the board.

Women on Boards UK CEO Fiona Hathorn said: “This report highlights that the job is far from done. While progress has been made over the past several years— much of this has been driven by the largest companies.

“There are many smaller listed companies who, with a collective market capitalization value of £63bn, have a significant impact on the UK economy.

“To accelerate diversity and close the gender pay gap we must look beyond the FTSE 350 and ensure that every company in the FTSE All-Share is held accountable to change.”

The enduring gender pay gap

As well as looking at diversity on boards and executive teams, Women on Boards UK also looked into the gender pay gap situation in all FTSE All-Share companies.

The average gender pay gap in FTSE 350 companies who reported these figures was 20.2%. This improved slightly to 17% for the remaining 261 companies.

The situation was even more dire for bonuses, as a recent report by Movemeon also suggested. The gap was 44.6% for reporting FTSE 350 companies and 36% for the rest.  

Women on Boards UK believe that the reason for the lack of progress with the gender pay gap in FTSE 350 companies is that improving the situation is a low priority. Even though these companies do talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, their reporting of the gender pay gap doesn’t really focus on how they are going to tackle the pay inequity.

Hathorn added: “Analyzing gender pay gap data reveals what is going on inside an organization’s culture, whether women are being recognized for their contribution and not just for symbolic value.

“Gender pay gap reports are indicative of whether a company is acting inclusively with strong corporate governance.

“While there are companies in the FTSE All-Share working hard to close their gender pay gap, many more companies need to seriously up their game on equal pay.”

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