Only 4% of executive board positions in the world’s largest power and utilities (P&U) companies are held by women, according to a new report.
The research, published by professional services firm EY, found that this lack of diversity is damaging business performance and leaving female executives struggling to be heard.
“Diverse boards deliver for companies; but the pace of change in P&U is out-distancing the pace of change in the boardroom,” said Alison Kay, EY’s global leader of power & utilities.
“Having just 4% of executive positions in P&U held by women is not enough. You can’t hear 4% – they have no voice.”
The report, which analysed the top 100 companies in the sector, also revealed that women account for just 18% of non-executive directors, 15% of board members, and 12% of senior management teams.
P&U companies have also under-performed global equity markets on price by two thirds over the past five years, the findings showed.
Although the P&U sector performs well on gender diversity compared to industries such as oil and gas and mining, it is some way behind consumer services and goods.
However, the research also pointed to the fact that companies across all sectors are struggling to meet the 25% to 40% targets set by governments.
In 2011, the UK set a target of having 25% of all board posts held by women at Britain's top companies by 2015.
The UK doesn’t currently set mandatory quotas, however this could be a real possibility if the 25% target is not met by next year.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are the best performing regions when it comes to boardroom diversity, accounting for nine of the countries in the top 20, followed by North America and Asia-Pacific, according to the report.
The fact that EMEA companies have a strong presence in the report “demonstrates the power of legislation to influence action”, said Kay.
Lucie trained as a journalist in 2003 and began her career in journalism as a Reporter for SecEd magazine, a weekly publication for secondary school teachers, before moving on to become Deputy Features Editor for GP magazine, where she wrote, commissioned and edited numerous features for the business section of the magazine. She has also...