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7.5% vs 17.5%

There’s been a flurry of headlines today announcing that FTSE 100 companies have reached a "major milestone" in increasing the number of women in their boardrooms. But which of the numbers above do you think represents the number of FTSE 100 executive directors with an MBA and which belongs to the number of women?

A report led by Lord Davies has shown that women now make up 25% of board members – meeting a target set by Davies in 2011. Although these figures seem positive and show we’re heading in the right direction, Freshminds’ recent research has shown that when you focus specifically on the number of women executive directors there’s still a long way to go.

Over the summer we carried out extensive research which showed that there are 10% more FTSE 100 executive directors that have an MBA than there are women in the same position. In fact, out of the FTSE 100’s 450 executive directors, 34 are women, compared to the 79 who have an MBA. When you consider the UK’s population of MBA holders vs the number of women this number is disheartening to say the least.

The important word that’s prominent in our research but lacking in Davies’ report is ‘Executive’, meaning people that are actually involved in the day-to- day decision making process of a company. Although new voluntary targets have been set by Davies, with the aim that a third of seats in our biggest companies’ boardrooms should be held by women by 2020, targets haven’t been set for the number of women in executive director positions.  As our research shows, these low numbers need to be addressed and there is a definite need to increase the number of women at executive level. This means that the pipeline of future executive directors and board members needs to be addressed and companies need to make sure talented women are being trained for, and promoted to, top jobs.

Our research

To record these results we examined the career history of CEOs and executive directors of the FTSE 100, excluding 3 investment trusts that were removed from the study. This left 108 CEOS (companies such as WPP and Vodafone had multiple CEOs) and 450 executive directors. 

Freshminds’ research also looked into the career backgrounds of FTSE 100 CEOs which found that you’re most likely to become a FTSE 100 CEO if you work your way up the management ladder of a company.

You can read our full discussion here.

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