What is the benchmark for successful gender representation across a board or in a recruitment process?

….a very simple question but with no clear unanimous answer. We have worked with a small number of employers who set their benchmark on census data, but in the vast majority of cases the objective is to be more reactive and attempt to address imbalances gradually through new recruitment processes.

A standard element of the recruitment service in our Executive Finance and People Network specialisms is to set the right representation benchmarks for each recruitment campaign – for the whole candidate pool in a campaign, and not as the assessment and selection process develops from there. This allows us to set a realistic bar at the start of the process, to review our progress throughout the process and to refine processes to ensure that our candidate pool meets or exceeds the target.

Better visibility of representation data in the local area, sector and specialism would be a very helpful step forward. As with every statistic, a deeper dive behind the numbers can provide the context and challenge any immediate assumptions. We have looked at the recent results from our Annual CFO Network Report  and in an article in the Sunday Times.

CFOs and Finance Directors in Yorkshire and the Humber

This statistic on its own is usually met with the response that it is a low representation for women, and that is undoubtedly true.

However, how does that compare with other regions, disciplines and how has progress been made recently? Lets look at the hiring activity over the past twelve months:

CFO and Finance Director hires in Yorkshire and the Humber over the past year

The Sunday Times presented an article that looked at the growing “army of female CFOs” in the FTSE which also highlights the importance of context. Their headline: "FTSE companies hit 40% representation for women in the boardroom last year" sounds pretty good. It also makes our numbers in Yorkshire look some way short, but the article goes on to provide some context:

  • 90% of these positions in the 40% are non-executive.
  • Only 7 women are CEO (down from 9 in the previous year).
  • The “big three” roles of Chair, CEO and CFO are still significantly under-represented.

This now creates a very different perception and throws up a few questions –

Are listed companies recruiting female NEDs to improve their statistics? (I am afraid that I cannot present an informed answer on this).

How are the FTSE companies setting their benchmarks? Are these benchmarks across the board or for specific roles in the boardroom?

This article throws up more questions than answers. As we said in our first ED&I article back in November, our objective is to bring the subject into more comfortable conversations – this is how we will all make the right progress.

For some inspiration from some of the Female CFOs in Yorkshire, please visit our Women in Finance page. The Sunday Times also featured the following FTSE CFOs – Anna Cross (Barclays), Amy Stirling (Hargreaves Lansdown), Kate Ringrose (Centrica), Margherita Della Valle (Vodafone) & Helen Miles (Severn Trent Water).

Nik Pratap
Lorraine Pratap
Elise Walsh
Gillian McBride
Nicola Worrow
Amanda O’Neill
Karen Caswell
Dale Spink
Charlotte Morgan-Smith
Gemma Hutchinson
Jess Lister
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Claire Screeton
Claire Screeton
Euan Begbie
Euan Begbie
Marie Carroll
Marie Carroll
Lucy Miles
Nicola Beach
Leighton Thomas

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