Gender diversity progress must continue in face of Brexit uncertainty, says PwC

PROGRESS towards greater female representation on company boards must continue in the face of uncertainty created by the EU referendum, PwC has said.

The comments come after the government announced that leaders from some of Britain’s largest companies are to undertake a government-backed review on improving female representation in leadership positions of British business.

The review, which will be led by Sir Philip Hampton, chair of GlaxoSmithKline, and Dame Helen Alexander, chair of UBM, will focus on ensuring the very best of female talent make their way up the pipeline by removing barriers to their success, and continue to drive forward the momentum from Lord Davies’s work – which pushed the numbers of females on FTSE 100 boards up from 12.5% to 26%.

The review broadens the ambition to the entire FTSE 350 and raising the target to 33% of women on boards by 2020. The focus for the work on the pipeline will be on representation on executive committees and direct reports to the executive committee in FTSE 350 companies.

A key element of the review will also consider current research on how to drive improvements and the obstacles preventing women’s progression. It is expected that findings will be presented to government by the end of 2016.

In order to meet the 33% target for FTSE 350 boards by 2020, a constant turnover is required and an appointment rate of one in three board positions going to women.

“It’s great that Britain’s largest companies have passed the 25% target for women on boards set out in the Davies report, but this is no time for complacency,” said Laura Hinton, head of people and executive board member at PwC.

“Efforts must continue to be focused where they matter the most – at the executive level and broader pipeline. This is where diverse leadership teams and diversity of thought can make a tangible difference to how businesses are run and their culture.

“It is important that the uncertainty created by the EU referendum vote doesn’t halt further progress in this important area. Diversity is vital for businesses to succeed and should continue to be at the heart of businesses’ strategies.”

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