Work & Wellbeing Business Leadership Gender Pay

Number of women in boardrooms up but there is still ‘shocking lack of diversity’


By Ellen Ormesher | Reporter

February 22, 2022 | 4 min read

Data released by the Fawcett Society reveals the number of women in FTSE 100 boardrooms in the UK has jumped from 12.5% to 39% in a decade. However, the organization says the figures do not capture the “shocking lack of diversity,” with “women of color, disabled women and LGBTQ+ people missing from positions of power.”

Women in the workplace

Fawcett’s index reveals that women of color are significantly underrepresented across the sectors

Fawcett’s 2022 Sex and Power Index is a biennial report that charts the progress toward equal representation for women in top jobs across the UK. Fawcett says this year’s data reveals the pace of change is “glacial in the majority of sectors” and “shows that women are outnumbered by men 2:1 in positions of power.”

While progress is slow, the data does reveal some positive changes. In 2020, 36.2% of boardroom roles on the index were held by women, from 26.6% in 2016. However, women make up only eight of the chief executives at the UK’s top 100 listed companies.

In the arts and media breakdowns, figures show that only 15% of social media company chief execs are women.

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “The people who hold the top jobs in our society have enormous power to shape our democracy, culture and economy. Yet men continue to dominate most senior roles. That’s not only bad for the women who miss out on opportunities to thrive, but it’s bad for us all, as we miss out on women’s talent, skills and perspectives.

“What is most alarming about today’s data is that it shows an unacceptable lack of women of color in senior positions. It is appalling that in 2022, women of color are missing in leadership positions from some of our key institutions and organizations. Put simply, this gives the lie to the idea that we live in a meritocracy or a society of equal opportunity. Structures, culture and often individuals continue to create barriers that prevent women and women of color in particular rising to the top. And we’re all losing out as a result.”

The survey concluded that while a lack of women in senior positions is to blame for the gender pay gap, a lack of women of color in top roles also feeds the ethnicity pay gap.

The Fawcett Society is calling upon the UK government to introduce intersectional ethnicity pay gap reporting and “get to grips with inequalities in our society that hold back women of color.”

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