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Coming Soon: 30% Club Podcast

Stay tuned for the new 30% Club podcast, exclusively hosted by Ann Cairns, Chair of 30% Club and Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard. She’ll be meeting some of the leading women.

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30% Club MENA: We need more female leaders in the fight against climate change

Female leadership

As governments and private companies gear up to tackle climate issues and make it part of the agenda of C-Suite executives and leadership teams, improving gender equity in boardrooms and decision-making tables cannot be an afterthought when drafting climate policy or sustainability efforts. 

Women’s leadership is crucial in tackling climate change. More so in the Middle East and North Africa region, where gender imbalance in leadership is significant.

These are the principle points raised in a White Paper commissioned by Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP) on gender diversity and sustainability in partnership with the 30% Club MENA, Arabian Business and the American University in Cairo to mark Gender Day at COP27. 

  • Key highlights from the report include:

  • COP27 is a perfect platform to continue pushing for change and inform firms on the need to implement policies that encourage more women to rise to leadership roles and have their voice heard.

  • For now, men are overrepresented on constituted bodies and government delegations, which remains an issue of concern. Equal and meaningful participation and leadership of women is vital to achieve climate goals.

  • Gender equality and women’s leadership can no longer be an afterthought when drafting climate policy. The time to act and accelerate change is now.
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30% Club global chair and Mastercard executive vice chair Ann Cairns said: 


Business is at its best when it brings together all the brightest minds, sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns.

“The 30% Club has been campaigning for greater gender diversity in corporate boardrooms since 2010 — a time when there were just 12.5 per cent women serving on the boards of Britain’s biggest companies, the FTSE 100.

“Our argument has always been that diversity of thought in senior leadership makes business better.”

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Ann Cairns pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

London, UK, 09 September 2022
: What an amazing woman we’ve lost. A queen who started her reign as a working mum in the 1950s – a role far outside the social norm in Britain at the time.

She also had a status above her husband in what was very much a man’s world.

She worked tirelessly until the end, welcoming another Liz as the new prime minister just days ago.

She gave 70 years to us as our Queen. She lived a life like no other with an incredible sense of duty and discipline.

She is a shining example of leadership at its very best.

Her former prime ministers say she became very knowledgeable and wise as the years went by. She was a great listener and sage counsellor. But many have also remarked on how she retained a great sense of humour. If you doubt it, then think of the James Bond stunt at the 2012 Olympics, which she simply loved!

The last time I saw her in public was at the Platinum jubilee when she came onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace. It was a wonderful moment which lit up the crowd and we all felt it might be the last time.

How sad that it was and how much we will all miss her.


30% Club pays tribute to former chair Brenda Trenowden

London, UK, 30 August 2022: It is with great sadness the 30% Club has learned of the death of Brenda Trenowden, CBE, a former chair of our global campaign.


She was actively involved with the 30% Club since its launch in 2010 and became chair of the UK chapter in 2015. She was an executive at ANZ at the time.


In 2019, while working for PWC UK as a partner, she became global co-chair, alongside Mastercard executive vice chair Ann Cairns. She stepped down from the campaign in 2020 but supported Ann during the transition to the role of sole global chair.  


During her involvement with the 30% Club, Brenda launched many successful activities to help promote gender balance in the workplace.


She set a deadline for our campaign’s initial aim of 30% women on the boards of the FTSE 100 by 2020. Building on the Club’s initial focus on chairs as members and improving the share of women on boards, she brought scores of new CEO members into the Club to set voluntary targets for the share of women in senior leadership. She also engaged with many more existing members to help achieve the board target and was delighted when it was achieved early in September 2019.


Since then, there has been acceleration in female representation at board level and there are now almost 40% women on board in the FTSE 100, according to data from BoardEx. The 30% Club hopes this will reach parity in the next few years.  


Another major contribution from Brenda was as a driving force behind the 30% Club’s Strategy Best Practices Working Group. She co-chaired the group from its inception in March 2019 to review how businesses should incorporate a diversity lens into enterprise-wide strategy development for customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.


In November 2019, Brenda opened the market at the London Stock Exchange to launch the working group’s report, Are You Missing Millions? The Commercial Imperative for Putting a Gender Lens on your Business, featuring case studies from the group’s participating firms. Since then, Brenda continued to work across multinationals gathering further case studies and best practices to evolve the thinking in this space.


Brenda’s work and dedication to promoting gender diversity in business is a rich legacy and was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2018.


Of her appointment to Commander of the British Empire, Brenda said: “I have the privilege of working with talented and committed women and men as part of 30% Club to affect real change. Improving gender balance in the workplace is so important to driving business success and economic prosperity.”


Ann Cairns, global chair of the 30% Club, said: “Brenda’s passion for life and commitment to gender diversity will be sorely missed across the 30% Club and the business community globally. She worked tirelessly to open doors for women, and men, throughout her career and was adamant talent should never be held back because of a person’s gender, race or anything else. The 30% Club is thinking of Brenda’s family and friends at this saddest of times.” 

Where Diversity is the FACT, Inclusion is the ACT, why inclusion matters

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By:  Diandra Soobiah, co-chair of the 30% Club UK investor group and head of responsible investment at NEST and Laura McGee, founder and CEO of Diversio.

New analysis by Diversio and the 30% Club makes one thing clear: it’s time to elevate inclusion in the conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). If we don’t, UK companies risk losing talent and fail to reach equal representation at the senior-most levels.

The 30% Club has a long-standing goal of driving gender diversity and has recently prioritised racial and ethnic diversity as well. The primary tactic has been advocating for more women and ethnic minorities on boards of directors, in part because these are quantifiable metric and, as the saying goes, “what gets measured gets done”.

With that said, the 30% Club has always emphasised the need for strong talent pipelines and company cultures where all employees have the opportunity to contribute and advance – in other words, equity and inclusion. Until recently, the concept of inclusion has been difficult to measure. But advances in artificial intelligence (in particular, natural language processing) have changed this, with startups like Diversio using AI to measure, track and compare organisational inclusion at scale.

Late last year, Diversio and the 30% Club’s UK Investor Group teamed up to analyse FTSE 100 companies on three DE&I-related metrics: Board and Executive diversity, DE&I programmes and policies, and the prevalence of 27 “inclusion barriers” – measured by applying artificial intelligence to employee reviews. Our goal was to identify top (and bottom) performers, uncover key drivers of bias and exclusion, and enrich the conversation about DE&I.

The results indicated that UK investors’ efforts to increase Board gender diversity appear to be working. But Board diversity is not an end in itself: the idea was always that diverse Boards would influence Executive teams and help create organizational diversity that would in turn improve performance.

Judging from our numbers, that has not occurred.

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Firstly, representation at the very highest level has not trickled down. There have been great strides toward gender diversity at the board level, with an average of 40% of board seats held by women. In contrast, only 14% of board seats are held by visible minorities. Just one-quarter of Executive positions are held by women, and less than 13% are held by visible minorities.

One might argue that it will take time for a strong talent pipeline to result in promotions to senior executive roles. This assumes that workplaces are fair and unbiased with equal opportunities to advance. Unfortunately, judging from our research, this does not appear to be true of many FTSE 100 companies. We believe that an inclusive corporate culture reinforces both diversity and equity by facilitating an environment in which employees can bring their full self to work which, in turn, attracts more diverse talent as this culture becomes embedded across the organisation.

According to Diversio’s dataset, UK employees face meaningful inclusion challenges at work. Among critical employee reviews left about FTSE 100 companies, an astounding 79% cite an inclusion barrier. Too many UK employees face harassment, recourse, exclusion, and lack of mentorship at work. According to them, this is affecting their ability to do their best work and causing them to look elsewhere for employment. (If you need more evidence, this recent study by Deloitte found that 23% of employees have already left their company for a more inclusive one).

Overall, the most commonly cited inclusion barrier centered on inclusive leadership.  For example, employees complained of a “very old school management style which is male, middle-age dominated”, where “domineering/bullying management styles tolerated” and the organisation is “highly political and full of silos”.

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The next most prevalent barrier is adequate resourcing, for example: “Profit driven with constant cost cutting at the expense of everything”. Employees mentioned their race and gender affecting their ability to advocate for resources needed to do their jobs effectively.

The third is a lack of fairness in career development, with employees saying things like “[there are] limited promotional opportunities from within [and an] average pay Culture in upper management.” Many employees described an “old boys club” with advancement opportunities given based on who you know and what you look like.

All this begs the question – how should investors engage with companies on this topic, and where should corporate Executives begin?

The first step is to acknowledge inclusion as a material factor in the war for talent. Now more than ever, companies are struggling to retain talent with turnover at an all-time high and employees valuing culture more than ever. Companies that cultivate inclusion will have a significant advantage. Those that get it wrong face attrition and reputational harm.

The next step is to benchmark performance and measure progress. Though achieving gender and ethnic diversity at a Board level is important, if we are to make tangible progress on DE&I we must look to improve inclusivity in the work place. Inclusion can and should be measured. (Diversio has open-sourced its framework here.) Once a baseline is established, executives can start to prioritize interventions and hold leaders accountable for meeting specific targets.

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The third step is to continue to engage with non-government organizations and peer groups like the 30% Club and The Network of Networks. DE&I is an evolving and nuanced topic, and every company has some room for improvement. Sharing learnings will help all involved – not just what is working, but also what is not. This requires a healthy dose of humility and openness to learn.

In summary, our goal was to create a baseline for components of DE&I like racial and ethnic diversity, equity and inclusion. Our analysis provides a good foundation for improvement – if executives and investors seize the opportunity. We hope they do.

Black women least likely to be top earners

Black women are under-represented and underpaid in executive roles and the least likely to be in the UK’s top 1% of earners. Black women continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles across the UK workforce.

The Inclusion Initiative at LSE, Mastercard and the 30% Club collaborated to undertake interviews with 44 Black women at various stages in their careers. The study was designed to  understand the headwinds and tailwinds that these women experienced throughout their career, with the view that firms interested in nurturing talented women could focus on augmenting the tailwinds that these women experience, as well as reducing their headwinds.

The analysis led to the creation of the TRANSPARENT framework, a new framework to create organisations that are inclusive of Black women in Finance, Professional Services and Big Technology. 

  • Key highlights from the report include:


  • 92% of the women we interviewed called for systemic change within their workplaces.
  • Black women also experience the largest pay gaps when compared to non-Black women and men, as well as Black men (Almeida et al. 2021).

  • The largest gaps are in finance, professional services, and big technology. 70% of Black women in these sectors believe they are being paid less than their comparable peers, with more than 10% of women reporting pay gaps as high as 30%.


    From the analysis, the researchers created the TRANSPARENT framework to create organisations that are inclusive of Black women in Finance, Professional Services and Big Technology.

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30% Club global chair and Mastercard executive vice chair Ann Cairns said: 


“We were delighted to partner with the London School of Economics on this research, to better understand the barriers Black women face in the workplace. Anecdotally, we have been hearing that Black women experience the most negative impact when it comes to progression in the workplace, specifically in the areas in which we operate; technology, financial and professional services and we undertook this research to validate that.

This thought-provoking research and the TRANSPARENT framework will be used to inform our own future activities and policies going forward within Mastercard. I hope they will also be of use to many other companies wanting to leverage it and tackle the issue within their organisations.”

The Inclusion Initiative (TII) at the LSE, Mastercard and the 30% Club hope to inspire firms to adopt these actions. Moreover, it is envisioned that companies will evaluate the effectiveness of these actions, making transparent the evaluation results.

This transparency allows firms to learn together ‘what works’ for the fair inclusion of Black women in finance, professional services and big technology. Given that the pay gaps experienced by Black women are the largest in the sectors studied, making Black women the benchmark for real change within organisations is appropriate. 

Training, recruitment, operations, promotions, procurement, strategies, and policies should be evidently inclusive of Black women. The call for greater transparency through reporting, audits and monitoring of the progress of Black women will help ensure firms are on track.

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Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Women in Leadership Stats – March update (UK)

March 22 LinkedIN Stats post

The UK’s biggest 100 companies are on the brink of hitting 40% female representation at board level. 

Our latest stats reveal the FTSE 100 average is 39.9%, as of March 2022. 

The FTSE 100 hit the 30% critical mass in September 2019, meaning there has been rapid and significant progress in the past two years.

That’s precisely why our campaign is working with companies all over the world to strive for the 30% mark. 

Of course, the real goal is goal is PARITY.

Our minimum UK objectives by 2023 are:  

  • Beyond 30% representation of women on all FTSE 350 boards, to include one person of colour We support the Parker Review goals for at least one person of colour on every FTSE 350 board.
  • Beyond 30% representation of women on all FTSE 350 Executive Committees, to include one person of colour.
  • Beyond 30% of all new FTSE 350 Chair appointments to go to women between 2020 and 2023.


March 2022 saw women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards reach an average of 40% for the first time in history.

While we celebrate this milestone, there is still much work to do across FTSE 250 and 350, not least of which on ethnic representation – only 178 board positions is in the FTSE 350 are held by directors of colour, with just 77 of those positions held by female directors of colour (Parker Review, November 2020).

Furthermore, there are still 38 FTSE 350 companies at less than 30% women on boards. But as of March 2022, there is at only one FTSE 350 company with an all-male board and the number of all-male ExCos is falling.

Almost at 40%
March 22 LinkedIN Stats post (4)

With just 24% of FTSE 100 Executive Committee roles currently (as of 1 April 2022) held by women, achieving at least 30% by 2023 represents a significant but achievable challenge.

Driving progress will require ongoing investment from CEOs and leadership teams in developing the pipeline of female directors. It will also require demand by investors, leadership from board chairs, commitment by nominations committees and action from head hunters, and of course it also requires ongoing investment from CEOs and leadership teams in developing the pipeline of female directors.

Out of 100 companies, the UK still only has 8 female CEOs, 18 female CFOs and 17 female Chairs. This shows that the 30% Club still has work to do even though they have reached our 30% on Boards target. 

We encourage individuals and organisations to support our work and help us in our quest to increase the number of women on company boards and at senior management level.

What you can do to help us:

Become a Chair or CEO Member (please check UK webpage for criteria)

Call upon your own organisation to introduce targets for women in leadership

Share information on the 30% Club with your colleagues and networks

Encourage lagging companies to improve their diversity efforts 

Melíosa O’Caoimh takes up role as 30% Club Ireland Chair

Meliosa O'Caoimh

Melíosa O’Caoimh, Country Head for Northern Trust

Melíosa O’Caoimh, Country Head for Northern Trust, is the new chair of the 30% Club Ireland, whose aim is to support a minimum of 30% gender balance at all senior decision-making levels in companies across the globe. The Irish chapter is supported by the leaders of 285 leading organisations across all business sectors. , representing more than 650,000 employees here. Melíosa takes over the role from Rachel Hussey, Clients & Markets Partner at Arthur Cox.



Melíosa is responsible for leading Northern Trust’s business in Ireland. Northern Trust is one of Ireland’s largest fund administrators and global custodians employing more than 1,700 people across offices in Dublin and Limerick.  The company employ over 1300 people at their Shannonside headquarters, and another 400 at their Dublin offices.


Prior to joining Northern Trust in 2003, Meliosa held various management roles with Pioneer Global Investments. She has a B.A degree in Economics and Politics from University College Dublin, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and a Member of the Institute of Taxation in Ireland.


Melíosa previously sat on the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, and is now chair of the 30% Club in Ireland,  co-chair of Business in the Community’s Leader Sub-Group on Sustainable Employment, and also sits on the Board of the National Maternity Hospital Foundation.


For more information on 30% Club Ireland see:




FTSE 100 meets Parker diversity target

Parker Review

FTSE 100 hits 2021 target

The Parker Review target for the FTSE 100 to have at least one board director from an ethnically diverse background by the end of 2021 has largely been achieved. 

The latest update from the Review has confirmed 89 FTSE 100 companies achieved the target by the deadline of December 2021. A further five have announced new ethnic director appointments in early 2022 and another three report they are actively engaging in recruitment.

Across the FTSE 100, 16% of board directors are now ethnically diverse, and 49% are women. 

The Review states: “These numbers compare starkly and very favourably with the position back in 2016, when only 47% of FTSE 100 companies had people from minority ethnic groups in their boardrooms. The number of companies with minority ethnic directors has doubled.

“We are also encouraged to note that the number of people from minority ethnic groups on FTSE 100 Boards splits evenly between genders, with women comprising 49% of the minority ethnic directors.”

Across the FTSE 250, where the deadline is the end of 2024, 12% of board directors are now from ethnically diverse backgrounds and 44% are women.

At the executive level, there hasn’t been as much progress. The Review states: “As expected, the great majority of these board positions are as non-executive directors.” 

There are also only six CEOs and 12 other executive directors across the FTSE 100 who come from a minority ethnic group. And there are only three board chairs from a minority ethnic group background. 

At the launch of the Review’s latest update, Secretary of State for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Never has there been a more compelling evidence base for the value of building diversity into business, all the way up to the Boardroom.

“Never has it been more clear that British business is seizing the initiative, responsive to the fact that drawing in talent across the diversity of society drives increased value to companies and makes good business sense. 

Leaders for race equity

“Business and Government are united in our shared belief in equality of opportunity to deliver a business environment that rewards meritocratic achievement: discovering, developing, and rewarding talent — irrespective of background.

“Out of uniting around the common goal of excellence, I have every faith that British business and the UK economy will build back better out of this pandemic.”

The update comes just two weeks after the 30% Club UK Investor Group issued a statement addressing the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in UK business and outlined the action it is taking to make positive change.

Members of the group who have signed up to the statement have more than £11 trillion assets under management. 

In February, the group sent letters to the FTSE 100 companies its independent research suggested had yet to meet the Parker Review targets.  

The letter warned the companies that investors may consider voting against companies at their annual general meetings if they fail to take action.

If your company wants to take action to make its senior leadership team more diverse, we have teamed up with Change the Race Ratio and Moving Ahead to deliver the Leaders for Race Equity CEO development programme.

The nine-month cross-company programme for CEOs and minority ethnic group leaders who are in the Exco talent pipeline to share and learn from each other’s experiences and shape strategic action. To find out more, please contact our delivery partners Moving Ahead by emailing  

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Women in Leadership Scholarship Competition 2022


The Women in Leadership MBA scholarship is a collaboration between Henley, the 30% Club and Financial Times.

Now in its tenth year, the Women in Leadership scholarship is designed to offer practical support for the development of strong female talent and reflects the shared mission of the three partner institutions to encourage gender balance in leadership teams.

The competition is open to both women and men who have relevant experience in the workplace either in managing a team, running a project or planning strategy.

Entries need to answer, in no more than 800 words, the question:

“Would efforts to tackle climate change benefit from more women taking the lead?

Entries must be submitted using the official application form, which can be downloaded at the bottom of this article. The winner will receive a fully-funded place worth up to £39,500 on our part-time Executive MBA – Global or Flexible Executive MBA programme starting in September/October 2022.

Deadline for entry: 23 May 2022 at 5pm.

Judging panel

  • Dr Anne Dibley, Head of Post-Experience and Apprenticeshipprogrammes at Henley

  • Laura Whitcombe, Global Campaign Manager, 30% Club

  • Harriet Arnold, Assistant Editor, Financial Times Special Reports

  • Plus additional judges to be confirmed.

Judging criteria

It is important that participants draw not only on data, research and other evidence to support their arguments but also their own personal experience, which could include examples of initiatives they have worked on, or are in the process of designing.

We want submissions which make us think differently – challenge the status quo and demonstrate a real understanding of the dilemmas faced.

Up to 10 finalists will be shortlisted from all entries received by the deadline.

Participants do not need to apply for an MBA place before entering this competition, but are expected to check that they qualify for entry on to the programme

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries