Women hold a tenth of P&L executive roles

27 July 2020

Only one in ten executive positions with profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities are currently held by women, according to a report. 

The report, by gender diversity consultancy The Pipeline, found 90% of executive P&L roles in FTSE firms 350 were currently held by men. 

Over two-thirds (68%) of FTSE 350 companies did not have a single female executive committee member in a P&L role. In comparison, just 1% of firms had no men with P&L responsibilities, the report said. 

Roles considered to have P&L responsibilities included chief operations or supply chain officers, chief commercial officers, chief finance officers and CEOs. Those skills are considered to be “key for those seeking the very top jobs, especially CEO”, the report said.

Nikki Archer, deputy director, head of procurement and commercial policy & strategy at the Scottish Government, told SM women sometimes lacked self-belief and therefore didn’t put themselves forward for the top jobs. 

“Imposter syndrome is alive and kicking. We shouldn’t waste time worrying about being found out, failing, or what we can’t do. We should focus instead on what we can do, investing in our networks and our teams so that we know where to go for help, advice or support.”

The fifth annual study from The Pipeline analysed women executives, their roles on executive committees, and the impact on business performance in FTSE 350 companies. 

The research found firms with women taking at least a third of positions in its executive committee had a profit margin of 10 times greater than those without.

If the same firms all had 33% female membership on their executive committees, the UK economy would have gained an additional £47bn in pre-tax profit, the report said. 

When the 2019-20 financial year closed, there were more FTSE 100 CEOs named ‘Peter’ than female CEOs, it said. 

“As businesses grapple with the severe economic challenges caused by Covid-19, it is essential that every company leaves no stone unturned in the fight for survival and the search for maximum returns. However, it seems that for many businesses, the calls for action over decades from government, external organisations and female leaders and executives have been ignored,” the report said. 

Commenting on the research, former UK prime minister Theresa May, said firms must have a “healthy pipeline of female talent running right through” to succeed in getting women into senior leadership roles. 

“That means identifying and removing barriers at every stage which prevent women from making progress in their careers. That needs buy-in from the top,” she said. 

Archer added: “Know and compete on your own strengths rather than trying to compete on the strengths of others; and take the time to invest in your professional development, your networks and in your personal resilience. Topping up your glass so it’s always at least half full helps retain positive energy and that, when channelled correctly, is infectious and will help get things done.”

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