'Catch up, and quickly: WOB UK Hidden Truth report reveals stark 'diversity divide'


Catch up, and quickly. That is the advice from WOB UK CEO Fiona Hathorn to the high number of firms yet to reach even the most minimal levels of diverse representation.


According to WOB UK’s second Hidden Truth report, while small gains have been made in the last 12 months, there is still a long way to go.

The 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.

The data this year shows there remains a stark ‘diversity divide’ between those firms leading and those lagging behind even minimal standards for diverse representation:

  •  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 
  • Companies with women CEOs have significantly more gender-balanced executive teams than those with male CEOs – 55% vs 14% respectively

“The data shows small gains compared to last year, which is a positive indication that UK firms are starting to take boardroom diversity seriously,” said Fiona.

“Board diversity is increasingly viewed as a baseline requirement for modern companies, so it’s incredibly disheartening to see stagnant progress in some areas. There remains a high number of firms yet to reach even the most minimal levels of diverse representation, at both executive and non-executive level. To these firms I say, catch up - and quickly.

"I really believe that biggest shouldn’t mean best when it comes to diversity, and I’m delighted that Protiviti UK have partnered with us on this report to shine a light on the importance of diversity beyond the FTSE 350."

  • Read the full report here 
  • Read last year's report here
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