Top UK company bosses are still more likely to be called Andrew or David than be a woman

The CEOs of the top 350 FTSE companies on the London Stock Exchange are still more likely to be called Andrew or David than they are to be a woman, according to a University of Exeter Business School expert.

Professor Ruth Sealy recently re-examined the companies as part of a podcast for recruiting experts Hays, for International Women’s Day, broadcast this Friday 8 March. It follows on from research Professor Sealy has carried out over a number of years about the make-up of top company boards.

She discovered that of the 350 CEOs, 18 were called David, 13 were named Andrew and 12 called John. Just 12 were women, representing just 3.4% of the group.

“Real progress has been made towards gender equality within some areas of the workplace but there are others – such as women making up such a tiny number of the top chief executive roles, which are still stubbornly slow to change,” said Professor Sealy, who is Associate Professor of Organisation Studies and has carried out extensive research into women in leadership and board composition.

She cites examples of companies making positive change including international consumer goods company Unilever, which has building a gender-balanced organisation with an inclusive work culture as a strategic priority. Lloyds Banking Group was the first FTSE 100 company to publicly announce gender targets that went beyond board level. While insurance company Aviva has seen job-share directorships role-modelled by two fathers and has introduced equal paternity packages.

“In the end, diversity across companies is about three core things; good talent management, inclusive cultures and great leadership,” added Professor Sealy.

“There are no excuses any more – there is plenty of advice, information and support out there to help business leaders and their teams improve diversity.”

Professor Sealy is joining The Rt. Hon. Dr Sarah Wollaston MP at the Health and Care Women Leaders’ Network at the Houses of Parliament on Friday 8 March. Professor Sealy will be speaking in her capacity as the author of NHS Women on Boards: 50:50 by 2020.