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Gender diversity in manufacturing: Latest research

21 March 2018

Livingstone, an international M&A and debt advisory firm, has released findings on gender diversity in the manufacturing industry. The study assessed female board representation in 25 manufacturing companies that are part of the FTSE100.

The sample included companies involved in: industrial, chemical, pharmaceuticals, food & drink,aerospace and defence, construction, home goods, clothing, building products, and packaging. Extractive companies (oil & gas and mining) were excluded from the study.

As of January 31st, female board representation of FTSE100 manufacturers averaged 32%, ahead of the universal average of 28.4% recorded by the Hampton-Alexander Review in November 2017. 

Only one company, property developer Barratt, has gender parity amongst directors, with five female representatives on its board of 10. Electronics manufacturer, Halma is the second most balanced with five of the 11 directors (45%).

Sub-sectors with higher female representation include pharmaceuticals (35%) and aerospace & defence (37%). Female representation at clothing manufacturer, Burberry, was the highest at 42%. 

Despite the positive improvements, the research found significant gaps in gender diversity. 32% of the 25 companies studied have female board representation of 25% or lower, and only six companies have 40% or more female directors on the board.  

Particularly striking is the lack of female chairs and CEOs across the FTSE100 manufacturers. Only three companies, GKN, GSK and Imperial Brands, have female CEOs and just two companies, Croda and Shire, have female chairs. 

Graham Carberry, partner at Livingstone, comments: “Looking at the wider picture, there’s no doubt that there has been a positive upward trend in female representation for manufacturing. The fact that manufacturing surpasses the FTSE100 average here is encouraging given its perception as a ‘man’s world’, but there is clearly a way to go.  

“Some firms are lagging behind, and the clear lack of female CEOs and chairs highlights a further problem – that whilst board participation is improving, it’s often weighted towards the non-executive roles, and masks a serious lack of representation in top leadership and executive roles.”

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