Top UK brands rapped for failing on gender diversity

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

The Investment Association and the Hampton-Alexander Review have written to 69 of the FTSE 350 companies, outlining concerns about the lack of gender diversity on their board.

Among those on the list are some of the country's biggest brands including Dominos Pizza, Greene King, JD Sport, St James Place and 3i.

The move a week after International Women’s Day, which highlighted the lack of gender equality and diversity around the world, not least in big business. We've listed all the offending companies below.

The letter, which has been sent to companies who have no women or just one woman on their board, asks companies to outline what action they are taking to make progress and ensure they are meeting the Hampton-Alexander targets of 33% of women on their board and leadership team by 2020.

The letter follows the announcement in February that IVIS, the Investment Association’s voter information service, will give a ‘red-top’, its highest warning level, to so-called ‘one and done’ companies who have just a single woman on their board.

UK companies not doing enough to bolster gender diversity

“Investors have been consistently clear that they want to see greater diversity in the boardroom so it is totally unacceptable that one in five of the UK’s biggest companies are falling so far short”, said Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association.

“Companies must do more than take the tokenistic step of appointing just one woman to their board and consider that job done.

Compelling evidence that diversity leads to outperformance

“There is also compelling evidence that boards with greater gender balance outperform their less diverse peers. These companies must up their game and explain clearly how they are planning to meet the Hampton-Alexander targets, or risk investor dissent at their AGM.”

Sir Philip Hampton, Chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review, said: “Most companies have made great progress in gender diversity in their boardrooms and senior executive leadership. 

“But there’s a surprising number of boards with just one woman, which looks more like tokenism than diversity. It also does not reflect the population of very talented women capable of making great contributions in boardrooms.”

And Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee, said outdated ideas were still being fostered.

“It's clear that some old-fashioned attitudes to the role of women in the workplace still linger in some of the boardrooms of our biggest companies. 

“The low numbers of women in executive positions can only hinder progress: gender pay gaps are highest in sectors with some of the lowest numbers of women executives. 

“The time for our biggest companies to remedy the lack of gender diversity is long overdue and they need to set out what actions they are taking to make progress.

”The role of investors is important here too and they need to assert themselves to ensure that diversity is reflected more visibly at board level.”

Here are all the companies the IA wrote to regarding the lack of boardroom diversity: 

The full list of companies is as follows:

One Woman Boards (66)
St James Place Plc
3I Infrastructure Plc
888 Holdings Plc
Acacia Mining Plc
Alliance Trust Plc
Amigo Holdings Plc
Avast Plc
Baillie Gifford Japan Trust Plc
BCA Marketplace Plc
Cairn Energy Plc
Caledonia Investments Plc
Capital Counties Properties Plc
Centamin Plc
Charter Court
City of London Investment Trust Plc
Clarkson Plc
ContourGlobal Plc
Diploma Plc
Dominos Pizza Group Plc
Edinburgh Dragon Trust Plc
Edinburgh Investment Trust Plc
Energean Oil & Gas Plc
F&C Commercial Property Trust Ltd
Ferrexpo Plc
Fidelity China Special Situations Plc
GCP Infrastructure Investments Ltd
Grafton Group Plc
Greencoat UK Wind Plc
Greene King Plc
Harbourvest Global Private Equity Ltd
Herald Investment Trust Plc
HG Capital Trust Plc 
HICL Infrastructure Company Ltd
Hill Smith Holdings Plc
Hilton Food Group Plc
Hochschild Mining Plc
IP Group Plc
JD Sports Fashion Plc
JPMorgan American Investment Trust Plc
JPMorgan Emerging Markets Investment Trust Plc
JPMorgan Japanese Investment Trust Plc
Jupiter European Opportunities Trust Plc
Just Group Plc
Monks Investment Trust Plc
Pantheon International Plc
Personal Assets Trust Plc
Plus500 Ltd
Primary Health Properties Plc
Rank Group Plc
Restaurant Group Plc
Riverstone Energy Ltd
Schroder Asia Pacific Fund Plc
Softcat Plc
Stobart Group
Syncona Ltd
Telecom Plus Plc
Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust Plc
Tritax Big Box REIT Plc
Vietnam Enterprise Investments Ltd (VEIL)
Witan Investment Trust Plc
Worldwide Healthcare Trust Plc
Apax Global Alpha Ltd
Civitas Social Housing Plc 
NB Global Floating Rate Income Fund Ltd
Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund Ltd
VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Ltd
No women boards (3)

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