At the inaugural Thomson Reuters Change Makers Summit held in London earlier this week, we brought together key leaders from international businesses with representatives from advisory, policy and industry with the express purpose of galvanising individuals to make commitments and take action to improve the gender balance at the top of our organisations.
As part of the larger #TRChangeMakers campaign, the Summit embodied a desire by many of the individuals and companies attending to move things forward. Focusing less on the business case for gender diversity, and more on what we can actually do to achieve that diversity.
The group of individuals we assembled represented a high calibre ‘think-tank’ that was well placed to bring forward ideas, insights and strategies to help address the gender imbalance we see at the top of many organisations.
We were fortunate to have Dame Helen Alexander as well as Alison Brittan, CEO of Whitbread, among others take part in a series of interactive panel discussions. Dame Helen and Alison both played an important part in the Hampton Alexander Review, an independent review body in the UK that was launched with the aim of improving female representation in senior leadership ranks.
The Hampton Alexander Review is building on the success of the Davis Review, which focused on getting more women onto FTSE 100 Boards – 25% by 2015. As a result of that effort, and the drive and ambition of the 30% club, whose founder Helena Morrissey also joined us at the Summit, women now account for 26% of FTSE 100 Board positions, more than doubling since 2010.
Although we have made progress, when you dig into the data only 61 of the FTSE 100 have achieved 25% or above of women on boards. Critically, when you look at the split between executive and non-executive directors, we see that women in non-executive roles hold just over 31% of Board positions, but on the executive side they hold only 9.7% of Board positions. It is up from 5.5% in 2010, but it is still very low.
The reality is that if we want to see sustained change in the gender makeup of the leadership of our organisations, we have to focus on making sure women progress through the executive ranks.
This message came across loudly and clearly during the Change Makers Summit. We heard that elevating women in business has to be fundamentally connected with an organisation’s strategic goals. And I am encouraged by the actions taken by our guest speakers on a number of fronts; including their commitment to publishing diversity and inclusion targets and the value placed on sponsorship and reverse-mentoring programmes.
If we want to pick up the pace of change then we must galvanize more people to take action. Each of the attendees was encouraged to leave the event with at least one concrete action that they committed to take – whether that was at a personal level, or on behalf of their organisations. Knowing that by simply writing down a goal you are 42% more likely to achieve it, we encouraged attendees to capture their commitments and share it on their social or firm networks.
I personally have committed to ensuring that at Thomson Reuters we publish our gender diversity targets and our progress towards those targets. I have also committed to take the energy created at our inaugural Summit and turn #TRChangeMakers into a global campaign.
We recently ranked 57 in the Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion Index, which examines top publicly traded companies around the world. We have also just been included in the Best Companies for Women by Fairygodboss, coming in at #8. We signed up for the UK Women in Finance Charter with the aim of having at least 30% females at the senior executive level in the UK by 2020. So we are making progress … but we have further to go if we want to achieve our goal of being the “the premier company for women in the information services industry” across the globe.