Increasing representation of women on private sector boards in Scotland

Report addressing barriers of equality and diversity in Scotland's private sector.


1 There are 4 companies headquartered in Scotland on the FTSE 100 - Aberdeen Asset Management, Royal Bank of Scotland, SSE and Standard Life.

2 There are 7 companies headquartered in Scotland and on the FTSE 250 - Aggreko, Barr (A.G.), Cairn Energy, FirstGroup, Stagecoach Group, Weir Group (John) and Wood Group.

3 The Davies Review was commissined by the UK Government fund that improving the gender diversity of private sector boards helped improve company performance, ensure that companies are able to access the widest possible talent pool, led to companies becoming more responsive to the market and improving corporate governance.The review made a number of recommendations including:
" All Chairmen of FTSE 350 companies should set out the percentage of women they aim to have on their boards in 2013 and 2015.
Qouted companies should be required to disclose each year the proportion of women on the board, women in Senior Executive positions and female employees in the whole organisation. The Financial Reporting Council should amend the UK Corporate Governance Code to require listed companies to establish a policy concerning boardroom diversity, including measurable objectives for implementing the policy, and disclose annually a summary of the policy and the progress made in achieving the objectives.
The findings of this review have led to the develpment of a voluntary framework for gender representation on coprate boards. An annual Women on Boards progress report is issued, with the most recent suggesting that women account for 24% of the board members of FTSE100 companies and 18% of board members on FTSE250 companies.This is a significant improvement on the rates in 2011 (13% and 8% respectively). (

4 The 9 protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion r belief, sex and sexual orientation.

5 2011 Census

6 Annual Population Survey April 2014-March 2015

7 Scottish Funding Council Infact Database (2012/2013)

8 Scottish Government (2013) Gender Equality Outcomes Gender Evidence Review

9 Scottish Office (2015) The role and contribution of women in the Scottish Economy.

10 FAME database December 2014

11 For example, cited in BIS (2013). The Business Case for Equality and Diversity and CBI (2014). Building on Progress: Boosting Diversity in Our Workplaces.

12 Dutton, M. and Raeside, R. (2014). Overcoming Barriers to Equality and Diversity on Boards in Scotland. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.


14 Changing the Chemistry aims to increase board diversity across the public, private and voluntary sectors, with members supporting each other through advice, coaching, identifying and sharing information about board vacancies and a peer-to-peer support network.

15 Equate Scotland supports women studying and working in the fields of science, engineering, technology and the built environment, including offering training, coaching and support for women throughout their careers and offering advice and training for employers.

16 Engender works to achieve gender equality in Scotland. In relation to gender equality on boards, their work includes providing consultancy, guidance and/or coaching to organisations on equalities issues and equality-proofing.

17 Women on Boards is a network for women looking to build their board career. As well as sharing information on available board positions, they also offer a range of personalised supports including CV reviews and pre-interview connections and advice and events. They also provide services for companies, including running workshops to inform and inspire pipeline women.

18 30% Club works to broaden the pipeline of women from "schoolroom to boardroom". Key initiatives include working with leading business schools to offer scholarships to women (as these are seen as key accelerators to promotion and senior management roles), working with the investment community to make the investment case for more diverse boards and to encourage investors to raise the issue with boards and management teams, and offering mentoring to mid-career women.

19 Opportunity Now is a Business in the Community campaign that seeks to improve women‟s success at work by providing tailored advice to employers on how to maximise the potential of their female employees and improve their recruitment and retention. A particular focus is on improving the gender balance of leadership progression.

20 An Inspirational Journey offers a range of programmes and events to help improve the diversity of senior management. These include the Pearls Programme that provides career support to women in middle to senior management to address the "leaking female talent pipeline", the Two Percent Club which acts as "The Voice of Corporate Women" and Arch- Even which supports women and men that have been identified as having the potential to reach executive level within 7 years

21 Sutherland, V., McTier, A., Glass, A. and McGregor, A. (2015). Analysis of the Impact and Value of Community Benefit Clauses in Procurement. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

22 Companies were asked to provide details of the number of board members from each protected characteristic.However, with the exception of gender (and to a lesser extent age) companies were often not able to provide this infromation.There are a number of reasons for this including:

  • They don't collect data on protected characteristics.
  • They collect data but choose not to disclose it as they felt doing so would breach confidentiality - with the small number of board members making it potentially easy to identify individuals.


Email: Jacqueline Rae

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