One in Five of UK Big Companies Have No Women on Their Board

Some of the biggest companies in the United Kingdom have zero or very few women board members and have been put on notice by a trade body of the fund management industry.

Industries that have few or no women as board members:

The list of industries that tops in not having gender-diversity on their board is headed by the energy industries where one-fifth of the 80 big companies have only one woman on the board. More than half of the energy companies have only one woman as their board member. Petrochemical company Ineos whose founder was named the richest in the UK has all-male board members while Hurricane energy and IGas also have no women in their board.

Shell has the best mix with half of its 12 member board is made of women. Meanwhile, EON is one such company where women outnumber men in the boardroom. Nearly half of the energy companies have no women executive at all.

Letter sent to companies seeking an explanation:

At least 69 of the leading UK companies have been sent letters by the Investment Association after conducting the Hampton-Alexander review asking for an explanation on why there are no women on their boards. As per the government-backed review, these companies have to have at least one-third of the top leaders to be women by 2020.

This letter comes in an important time as most of the companies will have their annual general meeting at this time of the year. The investors in this meeting will vote on many matters which include voting on the membership for the board.  

Investment Association Chief Executive in a statement said, “It is totally unacceptable that one in five of the UK’s biggest companies is falling so far short. Companies must do more than take the tokens step of appointing just one woman to their board and consider that job done.”

Head of the Hampton-Alexander Review Philip Hampton expressed surprise over the number of women some of the big companies have despite making great progress in their business.

The review adds great value to those people who have been demanding a quota for women. Catherine Mitchell who is a professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter said, “Voluntary quotas are insufficient. Quotas for women on boards are necessary. I do not believe for an instant that all men on boards get there on merit alone and therefore quotas are a sensible solution to righting the wrong.”

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