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Gender diversity on executive committees

Executive committees (ExCos) are a source of potential new non-executive directors. Here we examine the representation of women in senior executive roles in FTSE 100 companies.

2019 snapshot


companies have four or more women on their ExCo


of companies have an all-male ExCo


of all ExCo members fall into the BME category


ExCo members are women (out of 805)

The senior management team of a company comprises the executive committee (ExCo) and is among the most common sources of potential new non-executive directors for quoted companies.

Since 2011, the UK Spencer Stuart Board Index has analysed the gender diversity of the ExCos of the largest FTSE companies (where these are disclosed). During the past eight years the presence of women in senior executive positions has increased, but at a lower rate than female non-executive directors. In 2019, women held 20.4% of all ExCo positions, marking the highest rate to date. Even so, the percentage of women among non-executives in the boardroom (43%) is more than double the percentage of women on ExCos (20.4%).

Women in leadership: FTSE 100 companies (%)

ExCo members

Non-executive directors


In 2019, 83 companies of the FTSE 100 made their ExCo membership publicly known. From this sample we know the following:

  • There are 805 ExCo members in total. The average size of the ExCo is 9.7, which continues the decreasing ExCo size trend.
  • 20.4% of ExCo members are women: by contrast 43% of all NEDs are women. The percentage of female NED representation grew by 11.8% over the last year while on ExCos it increased by 9.6%, but only 5% over the past two years.
  • 57.8% of ExCos have two or more female members, unchanged from 2018 and still below the 2017 figure of 62%.
  • 9.6% of ExCos are all-male, still above 2017’s figure of 7.6%, but a decline from last year’s 15.7%.
  • 28.7% of women on ExCos are in HR roles, similar to previous years.
  • The average age of women on FTSE 100 ExCos is 51.5, unchanged from last year.
  • UK nationals comprise 55.8% of ExCo members, down from 61.6% in 2017. 38.8% are foreign, of whom 27.9% are from the US. (‘Foreign’ is defined as being of different nationality from that of the company.)
  • EVRAZ and HSBC have the largest ExCos at 17 members each, while Micro Focus International has the smallest at three members.
  • Twelve companies have four or more women on their ExCo.
  • 11.2% of all ExCo members fall into the BME category, slightly above last year’s 10.2% figure.

Female CEOs and female ExCo members

29% Human resources

24% Divisional/regional CEO

14% GC/company secretary

6% CFO

4% CEO

4% IT

19% Other

In half of the six FTSE 100 companies where the CEO is female, the percentage of women serving on the ExCo is above the average of 20.4%1.

Female CEOs and female ExCo members

Company CEO % women on ExCo in 2019

Emma Walmsley


Imperial Brands

Alison Cooper2



Carolyn McCall



Véronique Laury3


Severn Trent

Liv Garfield



Alison Brittain


1. At the time of our cutoff, Kate Swann was CEO of the FTSE 250 constituent SSP Group. Direct Line Insurance has since appointed Penny James as CEO and RBS has announced the appointment of Alison Rose.
2. Since our cut-off date, Alison Cooper announced she will be stepping down.
3. Véronique Laury was replaced by Thierry Garnier in Sept 2019