Fall in number of women in UK senior job positions

According to new research by executive search agency Green Park, female UK business leaders are three times more likely to need qualification from an elite university to get top jobs than their male counterparts  

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The proportion of senior business roles held by women in Britain has fallen by 19 per cent. According to Grant Thornton’s annual survey of 5,500 businesses across 36 economies, there has been a slow state of progress, with 2017’s figure a two per cent drop from the 21 per cent held last year.
When its first study was conducted in 2004, the proportion of senior roles held by women was 18 per cent.
The percentage of UK firms with no women in senior management has also risen from 36 per cent to 41 per cent this year. Globally, the proportion of senior roles held by women has hit a high of 25 per cent, though that is still a slow increase, edging up just one per cent since last year.
The countries with the best figures were Russia with 47 per cent, Indonesia with 46 per cent and Estonia with 40 per cent. The UK had the fifth lowest proportion of women in senior business roles, while Japan had the lowest at seven per cent.
Chief executive at Grant Thornton, Sacha Romanovitch, said improvement was moving at a “painfully slow rate”. She said, “The diversity agenda is all about creating an environment that is conducive to all and what women see as leadership isn’t always that attractive.
To this end we need to see a fundamental shift in what leadership looks like and what is expected of people in senior leadership positions.”
Grant Thornton also analysed how men and women see risks and opportunity. It found that men were more likely to see risk when considering issues affecting economic and political change, both nationally and internationally. The research showed that women in the UK were more likely to consider if the new risk represents an opportunity than men.
According to new research by executive search agency Green Park, female UK business leaders are three times more likely to need qualification from an elite university to get top jobs than their male counterparts. Among top 20 employees at FTSE 100 companies, 76 per cent of Russell Group graduates and 70 per cent Ivy League graduates are women. Chief Executive of Green Park, Raj Tulsiani says this shows that “female leaders need to achieve more than men before they even start their careers.”
These greater demands on women have been linked to the lack of female representation at the top levels of industry.
The same research found that there has been further decline in female FTSE 100 executive directors, with women making up just 10 per cent of those on boards. Baroness Royall, who chairs Green Park’s diversity initiative, said: “There’s a long way to go before there is a truly level playing field for men and women in business and it’s important for the UK’s largest companies to recognise that they may be missing out on strong leaders by putting such focus on university hierarchy.”
However, the report also showed that efforts to put more women in non-executive director roles at FTSE 100 companies are paying off, with 35 per cent of positions now held by women.
Meanwhile, there was more good news for women in business as it emerged that they now occupy 35 per cent of managerial positions in the UK, up from 32 per cent in the previous year, according to Santander analysis of ONS data.
However, Santander also pointed out that just 32 women are executive directors at FTSE 250 firms.
“Getting more women into business should be an absolute priority for the UK,” said Sue Douthwaite, Managing Director of Santander business banking. “Unfortunately, the data shows that too few women are at the top of UK businesses or setting up their own companies, and this needs to change.”
Research by the federation of Small Businesses has previously shown that only 18 per cent of smaller firms which are employers are majority-led by women.
London’s tech firms are taking steps to address the industry’s diversity problem. The independent network of over 4,300 tech experts carried out a study into how the industry is approaching the gender diversity.
Of the 210 senior Tech London Advocate leaders surveyed, 46 per cent said they now have a recruitment strategy aimed at increasing workplace diversity, with 49.2 per cent believing the industry is actively biased against women.