Firms with women in senior roles performed better than male-run companies by almost 40 per cent, new research has found.
The study, conducted by The Pipeline, which helps organisations improve their gender and ethnic diversity, discovered companies with more women in top positions managed to make more money during the 15 months of the Covid crisis.
Firms with women making up at least half of the executive committee secured a profit margin of 21.2 per cent, while FTSE 350 companies without female executives endured on average a decline in profits of 17.5 per cent.
Lorna Fitzsimons, The Pipeline’s co-founder, said: “The last year has been dominated by Covid-19, which has disrupted so much.
“Times of crisis are moments that offer the possibility of major shifts away from established paradigms, but the extreme stresses involved can also drive a response that is regressive.
“The data in Women Count 2021 reveals that FTSE 350 companies have not used the pandemic as a transformative moment for their businesses, instead there has been a reversion to type with companies continuing to fail women.”
The study discovered if all FTSE 350 firms with less than a third of women on their executive committees were to manage to attain the same profit margin as those with 33 per cent and more, the UK economy would gain an extra £123 billion in pre-tax profit.
Some five per cent of women hold CEO positions in FTSE 350 companies, which constitutes an increase of just one per cent from last year.
The report found gender parity in senior jobs has been delayed another four years and is now estimated not to be achieved until 2036. This constitutes a “regression of four years” from the study conducted last year, researchers warned.
Researchers said gender equality in the FTSE 350 is a critical part of Britain’s financial recovery from the pandemic.
Margaret McDonagh, who also founded The Pipeline, said: “Without decisive action, the future is looking grim for both women who want to be the next boss and the wider economy.
“Evidence of this lies in the incredibly low level of women who are in executive committee roles with profit and loss responsibility, which are critical pre-CEO positions, a situation that remains largely unchanged in the last 12 months.”
It comes after Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, previously told The Independent the government has “taken their foot off the pedal” on tackling the gender pay gap. She warned there was a lack of “political will” within the government to address the issue.
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