This year’s definitive Women Count has reported that there has been no progress on gender diversity in senior roles in the FTSE 350, and that only 3.7% of FTSE350 companies have female CEOs – down from 4.6% two years ago.

Funded by The Pipeline, the UK’s leading gender diversity business, this research tracks the number of women in executive positions and on executive committees and has found that 2019’s results show this has been another “wasted year of little to no progress.”

The data also show that more than 85% of companies have no women executives on their main boards, only 9% of executive directors on main boards are women - unchanged since 2017 – and a mere 17% of FTSE350 executive committee members are women, a tiny increase of just 0.8% since last year.

Pharma, however, continues to see more mixed results throughout the sector. It has almost tripled representation of women on executive committees (now at 26% up from 9% in 2018), however the representation across P&L roles has halved (now to 4% down from 8% last year). There was also a drop in representation of women executive directors on boards (down to 6% from 10% last year).

Lorna Fitzsimons, co-founder of the Pipeline, said that over the last four years ‘Women Count’ has proven that the FTSE 350 is “not a meritocracy.”

She continued, “When over 90% of men hold all the major positions from CEO, Executive Director and P&L roles there is something seriously wrong. The top listed companies are systemically failing to utilise their equally if not more talented female colleagues.

“We need to redefine the BEST person for the job and factor in the value of diversity to the Executive Committee’s performance. Businesses severely limit the talent they attract and retain as well as their bottom line when they exclude women. It’s time for the government and fund managers to force change.”

The Pipeline is calling on the UK government nationally and locally to adopt a target of 33% women on executive committees as a requirement in public procurement for organisations with annual turnovers in excess of £100 million.