Close this search box.
Story Events
Emirates Old Trafford
Smart Group - Electric Xmas

‘Pitiful and patronising’ – FTSE excuses for lack of women in boardrooms

‘They don’t fit in’, ‘they don’t want the hassle’ and ‘all the good ones have already gone’ – Just some of the excuses offered up by FTSE 350 company Chairs and CEOs when quizzed on why they didn’t have more women on their boards.

The quite frankly shocking state of affairs was revealed the team behind the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, which has challenged the UK’s biggest firms to make sure at least a third of their board members and leadership are women by 2020.

Despite a major drop in the number of top companies with all-male boards, the Review says many are still refusing to move with the times.

In its own words, the Review says some of the ‘outrageous’ explanations for not appointing more women include suggestions they are not able to understand the ‘extremely complex’ issues FTSE boards deal with and the idea women do not want the ‘hassle or pressure’ of sitting on a top board.

The full list  of explanations include:

‘I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment’

‘There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex’

‘Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board’

‘Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?’

‘My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board’

‘All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up’

‘We have one woman already on the board, so we are done – it is someone else’s turn’

‘There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman’

‘We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector’

‘I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to’

The number of women on boards has more than doubled in the FTSE 350 since 2011 according to the most recent statistics (November 2017). In that time, the number of all-male FTSE 350 company boards also fell from 152 to 10.

But Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said such appalling explanations prove companies have more work to do: “It’s shocking that some businesses think these pitiful and patronising excuses are acceptable reasons to keep women from the top jobs. Our most successful companies are those that champion diversity.

“Thankfully, there has been great progress in recent years and through our modern Industrial Strategy and the Hampton-Alexander Review we are determined that everyone has an equal opportunity to reach the top.”

Chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review Sir Philip Hampton said: “Around a third of FTSE 350 companies still have very few women either on their boards or in senior leadership roles. We used to hear these excuses regularly a few years ago, thankfully much less so now.”

These explanations have been published ahead of the announcement of the latest figures for the number of women on FTSE 350 boards on 27 June, which will mark the halfway point of the independent Hampton-Alexander Review which launched in November 2016.

Many companies reporting their gender pay gap earlier this year explained to the Hampton-Alexander Review team that the pay gap was due to insufficient women in senior roles, and/or a predominance of women in lower paid work. Ensuring women are selected in more equal numbers for senior roles, significantly reduces the pay gap.


According to research by McKinsey bridging the gender pay gap could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025 and it could translate into 840,000 additional female employees.

Under new laws introduced in April 2017, more than 8,100 private and voluntary sector companies reported their gender pay gaps by the 4 April deadline this year. All companies with more than 250 employees are required to report their gender pay gaps.