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Women In Leadership Statistics - Current Stats and How This Could Rise

05 April 2024
women around meeting table

When International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8th, it was an opportunity to reflect on the impact that women have had on my personal career.  It didn’t take long to realise that some amazing women have influenced some pivotal moments:

  • Teaching and instilling some core values such as professionalism, client focus and resilience in my first professional role – values that I hold dear to this day
  • Holding me to account and empowering me to take ownership when things weren’t going so well
  • Supporting me to take the leap from a job I truly loved into the wilderness of self-employment.  

As a business owner who designs and facilitates management training, this led me to wonder what the current statistics are in 2024 when it comes to women in leadership and what the future predictions are.  

Here is what I discovered…

Women in Leadership – A Rise in Empowerment

Let’s start with some positive news.  More women have secured leadership positions across various industries in recent years and up until the present time of writing in 2024.  

For example, in the UK's tech sector, women have been making notable strides in leadership roles. Tabitha Goldstaub became the CEO of a leading artificial intelligence company, driving innovation and growth in the field of AI technology.

The finance sector in the UK has seen increased representation of women in leadership positions. Jayne-Anne Gadhia, for example, served as the CEO of a major bank, overseeing operations and strategy within the banking industry.

Within the UK's healthcare sector, women have risen to leadership positions in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare organisations. Dr. Sarah Gilbert, for example, played a pivotal role as the head of a research team that developed a groundbreaking vaccine, showcasing women's leadership in medical innovation.

These are just three examples and there is reason to suggest that there will be many more examples in the future.  There are several reasons for this.

  1. An increased awareness and advocacy of the benefits of gender diversity in leadership roles:   Advocacy groups, social movements, and corporate initiatives have pushed for more equal opportunities for women in leadership positions.  Companies are recognising the value of diverse perspectives and are actively seeking to include more women in leadership positions to drive innovation and competitiveness.
  2. Diversity initiatives: Many companies have implemented diversity and inclusion initiatives, including targeted efforts to increase the representation of women in leadership. These initiatives often include mentorship programs, leadership development opportunities, and bias training.
  3. Changing Cultural Norms: Societal norms regarding gender roles have been evolving, with more acceptance of women in traditionally male-dominated fields. This cultural shift has opened up opportunities for women to pursue leadership roles in a wider range of industries.
  4. Education and Skill Development: More women are pursuing higher education and acquiring the necessary skills and qualifications for leadership positions. This increased pool of qualified female candidates has contributed to their greater representation in leadership roles.
  5. Supportive Policies: Some organisations in the UK have implemented policies aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace, such as gender quotas for corporate boards or parental leave policies that encourage women to remain in the workforce and pursue leadership positions.

Current Statistics

When we delve into the statistics, there is plenty to be positive about but in truth, it is a mixed bag with plenty of work to be done in the future.

  • The representation of women on FTSE 350 Boards has increased beyond the 40% target, with almost two years to go until the end of 2025. There is however evidence there is room for more progress. FTSE Women Leaders
  • The number of women in the FTSE 100 Combined Executive Committee & Direct Reports has increased to 35.2%, up from 34.3% last year. FTSE Women Leaders
  • The FTSE 250 has made similar progress this year, with the number of women in the Combined Executive Committee & Direct Reports increasing to 33.9%, up from 32.8% last year. FTSE Women Leaders
  • The FTSE 350 has seen further gains this year, moving up to 42.1% women’s representation, an all-time high, and evidence there is appetite for more progress. FTSE Women Leaders
  • According to the Guardian, Burberry came top again in 2024 with 55.2% female representation on its board, followed by Marks & Spencer (51.3%), Next (50.6%) and National Grid (48.7%).  
  • Again, according to the Guardian, there are only 10 companies led by female chief executives in the FTSE 100, the top 100 listed businesses.  
  • 40% of UK mid-market businesses in 2024 have a female CFO, up from 9% in 2012 according to Grant Thornton 
  • Research from Grant Thornton also found that working styles have an impact on women in senior roles. Their research found that businesses in which workers are primarily office-based are the only ones where the percentage of women in senior management roles drops below the global benchmark. If businesses push too hard for a return to the office, then they may unwittingly undo some of the progress made on removing the barriers to enable women to thrive in senior management positions which resulted in part from the adoption of flexible working practices.  
  • Contrary to the perception of equal promotion, according to only 30 % of women compared to 34% of men received pay raises in 2023.  They also constitute the majority of those promoted without salary increases. This is at odds with the perception held by the majority (62%) that believe women and men are promoted equally. 
  • Currently there are 226 female MPs in the House of Commons and 238 female members of the House of Lords. In the Commons women make up 35% of MPs and in the Lords 29%. Together, women make up 32% of members of the Commons and Lords. House of Commons Library
  • On average, a female-founded business receives £763,000 in funding compared to £4.7 million for a male-owned company. £250 billion could be added to the UK economy if women matched men in receiving business investment.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (18%) companies in the UK are led by women in 2024, more than 880,000, including 7.5% ethnic minority female-led companies. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of companies in the UK (65%) are male-led and more than 1 in 7 (15%) are mixed.
  • You can find the highest percentage of female-led businesses in the health, wellbeing and social care sector, where 2 in 5 (40%) of companies are headed up by women. This is the only sector where there are more businesses led exclusively by women than businesses led by men.
  • Other sectors high up on the list, where more than two-thirds of companies are led by women, include education (35.4%) and public health and safety services (35%). 
  • At the other end of the spectrum is the energy sector, where just 1 in 20 companies (5%) are led by women. Construction is not far behind, with 6% of companies female led. Other sectors with a notably low proportion of businesses led by women include mining and quarrying (7%), water and waste services (8%) and financial services (9%).

It is evident through these statistics that there has been a shift in the right direction towards more women in leadership roles, yet still there is so much more to be done.  

At Donovan Training Associates, we’re committed to providing quality and relevant management training, maximising opportunities for both men and women to develop their skill sets, increase confidence and enhance their career prospects, be that through individual coaching or facilitated workshops.

Our online leadership management courses serve as a great additional tool that is easily accessible; contact us today for more information.

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