Has female leadership stalled in the last two years? Is it time to have mandatory targets then? Common, we can’t keep on having excuses …
Has female leadership stalled?
Published on April 3, 2022
published on April 3, 2022

The PeopleAlchemist Edit: change & transformation, business & lifestyle experimentation for TheWomanAlchemist – Has female leadership stalled?




Has female leadership finally stalled?

The slow progress of women directors on FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 boards suggests the voluntary approach isn’t working as well as anticipated. So, according to the Cranfield School of Management’s Female FTSE Board Report, it may be time for mandatory targets.

This concept doesn’t sit well with me. 




Firstly, it could have harsh consequences for a business if it appoints people to meet a target rather than the most suitable to lead the company. 

Secondly, in my days as corporate HR Director sitting on the company board, I would have been mortified if I had found out I was there to fulfil a “quota”. I was there because of my results. I was more than good enough. Period. Woman or man.

All chairs and CEOs of FTSE companies understand the business case for gender diversity at an intellectual level. Still, it is debatable whether they believe in it and are willing to invest serious effort into achieving it.

My CEO was a wise man, and he always said, “the majority of our customers are women, and we need a board representative of our customer base”. 

You can see a clear division between companies engaging in “box-ticking” and those who genuinely embrace and incorporate gender diversity – and it is the latter group with the higher proportion of women coming through the executive pipeline.

Back to the stats.

In 2021 the percentage of female non-executive directors on FTSE 100 boards was at an all-time high of 44% 2021, whilst the percentage of female executive directors has remained at 13.7 for the second year. And in FTSE 250 companies at 11 per cent for two consecutive years too.

In summary, though, 21 per cent of FTSE 100 companies and 32 % of FTSE 250 companies have not met the target set of 33 % representation by 2020.

While it is great to have a critical mass of female board members, this is not enough to ensure a healthy pipeline of female executives. More robust talent management and succession planning are the key.


Let’s face it, what is leadership?


Firstly, leadership is living your values daily and telling people what to do and why but not how to unleash their talent and potential.

Secondly, leadership is a journey of learning and adapting, and it does not exist in a vacuum.

Finally, leadership is also responsibility to yourself and others, your organisation and society.

And for this, you need:

  • consistency to build integrity and trust
  • agility and adaptability
  • moral courage to do what is right
  • ability to take risks and exploit opportunities
  • accept advice from other
  • commitment to their people, challenging, supporting and serving their needs.


Leaders also have the responsibility to shape the climate of their team. Much is achieved through example, demonstrating the standards expected and having the courage to step in when the standards are not met. Collective success is determined by the commitment of every individual in the team.

So, you are telling women can’t do this? 






Laura Mariani

Laura Mariani

Best Selling Author, Speaker, Change & Transformation Expert


Hi there, I hope you enjoyed this post. Please do provide me with feedback.

I want to hear ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’. If you disagree with me or want to provide a different perspective, leave a comment. Tell me what’s on your mind.

Do remember though to be respectful and kind – we can agree to disagree, no need to be nasty. Thank you.


Laura xxx

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