Voice for Inclusion

We advocate for the proven operational benefits of diverse boards - making the case through our talks, media and other campaigns.

Our original research reports monitor progress on diversifying the UK’s boardrooms. Progress outside the FTSE350 remains patchy – and slow – with diversity in executive board roles especially poor.

We regularly speak at conferences, seminars and other events, making the case for open, transparent recruitment to the boardroom, as well as appearing in broadcast and print media.

The business case for equity, diversity and inclusion in executive and non-executive leadership is compelling and research-based.

Talent and ambition are equally distributed across the workforce, and organisational practice and culture should enable all to reach their potential.

Diversity leads to more innovation, better quality of decision-making and correlates with improved business performance – particularly when supported by inclusive leadership and culture.

our research

The Hidden Truth

NEW findings on gender and ethnic diversity in board and executive leadership teams in the FTSE All-Share below the 350. Published June 2022 in partnership with global consulting firm Protiviti.

Our Hidden Truth report, now in its second year and published in partnership with global consulting firm Protiviti, monitors the gender and ethnic minority representation on FTSE All-Share boards – the 252 companies below the largest 350 companies (ex350). The report calls for ongoing and deeper scrutiny across listed companies to give a true picture of UK boardroom diversity.

  • 50% of UK firms in FTSE All-Share ex350 have no women in C-Suite positions
  • 44% of firms have not achieved the target of 33% women on boards
  • A quarter of boards (25%) have one director of colour, up from 16% in 2021 – but 75% of boards are entirely white

the evidence

Making the case for diverse boards

An established body of evidence shows more diverse boards are not only 'good', but good for business.

Just in case you – or your board’s Chair or Nominations committee – need more convincing on the benefits of diverse boards, we have collated a (non-exhaustive) list of key arguments for prioritising diversity in your board recruitment. And, as you would expect, each is backed up with reputable research findings.

our advocacy

Board diversity targets

We advocate for a 40:40:20 target as a truly representative target for board gender diversity.

This recognises that with small or odd numbers of individuals on a board, a 50-50 split is unlikely. Therefore, a representative target is 40% male, 40% female and the remaining 20% naturally fluctuating either way.

The UK has taken a business-led approach to progressing board diversity. Government backed targets have been followed up with robust monitoring and scrutiny, with keen interest shown by investors, shareholders and internal and external stakeholders. This has proved effective, if slow, at driving change.

Other territories in Europe and globally have instituted quota systems in recent years. Interestingly, many set gender representation levels at or a little higher than the level achieved within the UK.

“Persuasion is better than quotas for achieving board diversity, particularly if those female NEDs are to make their influence felt and avoid accusations of tokenism. However, it is understandable why quotas are the preferred option where little or no progress has been made with ‘carrot not stick’ approaches. Although I don’t like quotas, I do like what they aim to achieve.”

Fiona Hathorn, CEO Women on Boards