Sea-change in the gender composition of UK boards doesn’t cut it…

According to the February 2022 FTSE Women Leaders Review, almost 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women. This puts the UK second in international rankings for board representation. Compared with a paltry representation of just 12.5% 10 years ago, the findings demonstrate a sea-change in attitudes to women leaders taking up residence at the top table of UK businesses.

Undoubtedly, enormous progress in the quest for equal opportunity in career progression has been made. But the CIPD warns we still have a long way to go. A marked lack of female representation in executive vs. non-executive roles endures. This means that women in UK businesses simply don’t have the same decision-making power as men on a day-to-day, operational basis.

According to the CIPD, government initiatives and goal-setting on their own are not enough to close the gender gap. It claims that a holistic approach to building a strong and sustainable female talent pipeline is essential.’ In other words, employers need to develop inclusive strategies that offer practical support to female employees. To deep-dive the CIPD’s recommendations on the subject, please visit the CIPD website. Alternatively, you can read our summary of the key tips below.


Ensure that women are paid and treated equally in the workplace. Demonstrate zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination and harassment. Communicate your policy on dignity and respect at work clearly.

Senior leaders should champion and role-model flexible working.

Train all managers to manage people effectively, including as regards the importance of leading by example and proactively tackling conflict or inappropriate behaviour.

Probe and question your people data. Examine every stage of the employee life-cycle to ensure that people management practices are fair and inclusive. Document the number of male vs. female applicants for each role plus their respective success rates. Seek out ‘cliff-edge’ moments when women tend to leave your organisation. Look for explanations for your findings and use the insights delivered to set realistic goals (and supporting strategies) for improvement. Review your progress regularly.

Reimagine jobs, introducing flexibility wherever possible. If there’s an opportunity for remote or hybrid working, promote it in your job adverts. Train line managers to effectively manage remote workers.

Support parents and other caregivers with flexible working programmes. Encourage greater take-up of paternity leave and shared parental leave by making people feel comfortable and confident requesting it.


Ultimately, the CIPD recommends that the HR community identifies and tackles the organisation culture, systems and processes that are limiting change on gender equality issues. Gender parity certainly seems much more achievable than it did a decade ago. But it’s only by keeping the issue front of mind that HR professionals and business leaders will finally close the gap.

Please get in touch to let us know your views and experiences on this fascinating matter. Or if you’d like to brainstorm your recruitment challenges, we’ll be equally happy to hear from you. With a vast pool of top talent on our books, we can find the best possible matches for all your open vacancies quickly and effectively. Call us on +44 (0)20 7092 3939 or email us at to find out more.