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Mar 15, 2019

Investment Association attacks ‘tokenistic approach’ of FTSE 350 companies to gender diversity

Association writes to 69 companies with no women, or just one woman, on the board

The Investment Association, the UK trade body for investment managers, and the Hampton-Alexander Review, the government-backed body to increase the number of women on FTSE boards, have written to 69 of the FTSE 350 companies, outlining concerns about the lack of gender diversity on their boards.

The letter, which has been sent to companies that have no women or just one woman on the board, asks companies to outline what action they are taking to make progress and ensure they are meeting the Hampton-Alexander target of 33 percent of women on both the board and leadership team by 2020.

The letter follows the announcement in February that Ivis, the Investment Association’s voter information service, will give a ‘red-top’ – its highest warning level – to so-called ‘one and done’ companies that have just a single woman on the board.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, says in a statement: ‘Investors have been consistently clear that they want to see greater diversity in the boardroom so it is totally unacceptable that one in five of the UK’s biggest companies are falling so far short.

‘Companies must do more than take the tokenistic step of appointing just one woman to their board and consider that job done. There is also compelling evidence that boards with greater gender balance outperform their less diverse peers. These companies must up their game and explain clearly how they are planning to meet the Hampton-Alexander targets, or risk investor dissent at their AGM.’

Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the Hampton-Alexander Review, adds: ‘Most companies have made great progress in gender diversity in their boardrooms and senior executive leadership. But there’s a surprising number of boards with just one woman, which looks more like tokenism than diversity. It also does not reflect the population of very talented women capable of making great contributions in boardrooms.’

Labour MP Rachel Reeves, chair of the UK Parliament business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, comments: ‘It’s clear that some old-fashioned attitudes to the role of women in the workplace still linger in some of the boardrooms of our biggest companies.’ 

The full list of companies is as follows:

No-women boards (three)
Daejan Holdings
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels
TR Property Investment Trust

One-woman boards (66)
St James Place
3I Infrastructure
888 Holdings
Acacia Mining
Alliance Trust
Amigo Holdings
Baillie Gifford Japan Trust
BCA Marketplace
Cairn Energy
Caledonia Investments
Capital Counties Properties
Charter Court
City of London Investment Trust
Dominos Pizza Group
Edinburgh Dragon Trust
Edinburgh Investment Trust
Energean Oil & Gas
F&C Commercial Property Trust
Fidelity China Special Situations
GCP Infrastructure Investments
Grafton Group
Greencoat UK Wind
Greene King
Harbourvest Global Private Equity
Herald Investment Trust
HG Capital Trust
HICL Infrastructure Company
Hill Smith Holdings
Hilton Food Group
Hochschild Mining
IP Group
JD Sports Fashion
JPMorgan American Investment Trust
JPMorgan Emerging Markets Investment Trust
JPMorgan Japanese Investment Trust
Jupiter European Opportunities Trust
Just Group
Monks Investment Trust
Pantheon International
Personal Assets Trust
Primary Health Properties
Rank Group
Restaurant Group
Riverstone Energy
Schroder Asia Pacific Fund
Stobart Group
Telecom Plus
Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust
Tritax Big Box REIT
Vietnam Enterprise Investments
Witan Investment Trust
Worldwide Healthcare Trust
Apax Global Alpha
Civitas Social Housing  
NB Global Floating Rate Income Fund
Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund
VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund