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International Women's Day - What's New? What's Next?

What's New


Fidelio is deeply committed to building and establishing gender balance, in particular in leadership teams and Boards. International Women’s Day is an important time to reflect on progress, as well as to look ahead. And the pathway to gender balance is certainly not linear with progress remaining a a mixed picture:

  • In the UK we have recently seen a major step forward when the FTSE Women Leaders Review announced that its 40% target for women on FTSE 350 Boards has been achieved two years ahead of plan. However there remains a significant way to go in CEO roles, and only 16% of Chairs are female. While 36% of FTSE 350 Senior Independent Directors are now female, there is no evidence that the increase in SIDs will flow through to an increase in Chairs.

  • Elsewhere in Europe progress remains slow: for example, the European Banking Authority recently released a report documenting glacial progress in improving gender diversity at senior levels in financial institutions. Only 18% of Executive Directors are female, and while larger institutions and those in northern and eastern Europe are making progress, it is much slower elsewhere.

  • In the US the pace of change slowed in 2022 when compared with progress in previous years – but nonetheless women made up a record 32% of S&P500 Board seats at end 2022.

Against this backdrop Fidelio has also consistently played a leadership role in actively promoting gender diversity:

  • Fidelio was delighted to have been accredited by the UK's FTSE Women Leaders Review for the sixth year in recognition of our work to strengthen gender balance in the Boardrooms of FTSE 350 companies. This is predicated upon our Search track record: 52% of Board and leadership appointments have been female over the past three years, and 30% of minority ethnic backgrounds.

  • Fidelio has recently appointed Heather Cooper, former FTSE 100 Chief People Officer, as Partner, enhancing Fidelio's commitment to the People Agenda. Heather brings rich first-hand experience of all aspects of the People Agenda, including a focus on diversity and inclusion, to further build out Fidelio's highly-regarded Board Evaluation and Search practice.

To support our clients and broader Board network, Fidelio has also hosted roundtables and webinars focusing on the progress towards gender diversity in the Boardroom, including in STEM and Tech, as well as Overtures which address ongoing issues surrounding gender diversity internationally.


What's Next


Most important is what come’s next.


It was striking at the release of the FTSE Women Leaders Report that greater gender diversity on Boards is flowing straight through into increased cognitive diversity. Different subjects are coming onto the Board Agenda and are being handled in different ways.


This is the real opportunity around increased gender, as well as other forms of diversity. While to date there is relatively little research on the behavioral shift in more diverse Boards, there is much anecdotal evidence.


Fidelio is delighted be actively building Board capability to provide the resilience and direction that companies needs right now. One aspect is without a doubt the ability to think about problems in different ways. This is of critical importance given the seemingly intractable problems that are facing society: climate change, cost-of-living crisis, war.


Indeed, as a topical example Fidelio will explore with the Rector Lucy Winkett, ‘The Social Contract & Board Accountability - Imagine the World to be Different'. This Roundtable will very much draw upon different ways of thinking about some of the toughest problems in society.


Whether through Search, Evaluation or Development, Fidelio is committed to supporting Chairs as they strengthen and diversify their Boards. Gender diversity is a critical component.

 

For further details about Fidelio’s approach and track record in Building Better Boards through Evaluation, Development and Search, please contact gkarrancumberlege@fideliopartners.com.

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Gillian - Karran Cumberlege

Head of

Board Advisory

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