Norman Broadbent and BDO: Retail leads in diversity

11 December 2014

Retail is leading the way when it comes to getting women in executive roles, a new research by BDO shows. In this industry sector, women make up a quarter of the Non-Executive Director boards in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, which is double the average of all industry sectors, in addition to this, the number of Executive Directors in Retail is also 2% higher than the industries’ average.

Norman Broadbent, a board executive search firm, together with consulting firm BDO and not-for-profit organisation Quoted Companies Alliance, recently released a new research into the board composition and diversity of over 1,700 quoted companies including those within the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250. “The composition of a management team in terms of size, age, gender and tenure is a critical determinant of its performance, so it should be a priority for companies to regularly review their makeup,” comments Scott Knight, Partner at BDO.

The research states that although women are still underrepresented at the executive level*, Non-Executive Director (NED) boards in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 have made huge progress in increasing gender diversity. More than one-third of appointed NEDs in the past three years in FTSE 100 were women, increasing the number to 27%, and in FTSE 250 women accounted for 34% of the appointments, bringing the number to 21.8%. The number of women in Executive Directors boards is significantly lower, with the highest proportion of 7.6% in the FTSE 100, although this is also an increase from the 5.6% in 2010.

Norman Broadbent, BDO and Quoted Companies Alliance research board diversity

The research shows clear differences between industry sectors when it comes to boardroom composition. Retail is leading the pack with the highest female representation in both NED and Executive Directors boards. Just over a quarter (25.8%) of NEDs in the Retail sector are female, which is double the average of all sectors and of the Retail Executive Directors 8.2% are female, compared to the 6.2% average. “The retail sector’s gender diversity record is impressive. It has the highest share of female non-executive directors amongst all industries surveyed. Boards should have the appropriate balance of skills, experience, independence and knowledge, and diversity is a key component of, not only good corporate governance, but of successful businesses,” explains Sue O’Brien, Chief Executive at Norman Broadbent. “Fast moving sectors, such as retail, appear to have embraced this, with non-executives bringing more current experience which provides the fresh thinking that this sector needs. However, there is much more work to be done.”

* Gender diversity is a hot issue and has also recently been investigated by Oliver Wyman. The firm released a research into diversity at the CEO and Executive Committee (ExCo) level in the financial services industry, and found that in 2013 only 4% of CEOs and 13% of ExCo members were female.