Just nine FTSE 100 companies run by female bosses, study finds

Experts emphasise HR’s crucial role in making such roles more accessible to women

Just nine of the UK’s top 100 listed companies are headed by a female CEO, an analysis has found, with experts saying a more general shortage of women in senior leadership roles is to blame.

The analysis, conducted by Robert Half, also found that more than two in five (42 per cent) of FTSE 100 CEOs came from a background in finance and banking – including 16 CEOs who are chartered accountants or chartered management accountants – despite just 19 firms being in the finance sector.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of all FTSE 100 bosses have achieved some form of post-graduate qualification, including 23 per cent who hold an MBA.

The analysis also found the number of CEOs who were promoted to their role internally had increased since before the pandemic, up from 46 per cent in 2019 to 68 per cent today.

Commenting on the causes of gender disparity, Leyla Tindall, managing director for Robert Half Executive Search, said the “most significant” was the shortage of women in lower leadership positions, meaning that shortlists for C-suite roles were often “not as diverse as they could be”.

Tindall added that, despite the introduction of shared parental leave and better support for women returning to the workplace, the time spent away from the workplace to care for a family still set women back while their male counterparts continued to progress.

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The analysis comes just weeks after the latest report from the FTSE Women Leaders Review, which found that while female representation on boards continues to improve, women are still under-represented in executive positions.

Nearly 40 per cent of board-level positions across the FTSE 100 companies are now occupied by women; however the same is true for less than a third (32 per cent) of executive director roles or roles that reported directly to an executive director, the review found.

“While we are seeing more women in non-executive roles, we still have a long way to go to get more women into executive roles,” said Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, adding that HR had a crucial role in making these roles more accessible to women.

Through workforce data, McCartney said HR teams can highlight to organisations what processes or aspects of culture are preventing women from reaching the top, and set out “concrete actions for change”.

HR also needed to “ensure line managers are trained to support fair and inclusive career development and progression”, she said.