This International Women’s Day, 30% Club UK celebrates the UK’s leading women CEOs

UK FTSE 100 reach 30% women on ExCos


The UK’s top 100 ranked companies have reached the critical mass of 30% women in executive committees for the first time.  

The FTSE Women Leaders Review has also confirmed women hold 35% of all leadership roles in FTSE 350 companies and 42% of board seats. 

However, despite much welcomed progress for female representation, there remains an absence of women leading the UK’s largest organisations. And almost half of all available appointments now need to go to a woman to meet the Review’s 40% Women in Leadership target by the end of 2025. 

Pavita Cooper, UK Chair of the 30% Club, said: “Organisations need to double down on efforts to accelerate the progression of women through the pipeline. CEOs and Chairs need to drive the focus on closing this gap, failing to do so is simply bad for business.”

Read the full report here

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

Toxic workplace culture is not something unique to the CBI

Hanneke Smits

Corporate culture is often said to be defined by the worst act you allow to take place in your organisation. What is alleged to have taken place at the CBI exposes the very real human cost of failure.

As global chair of the 30% Club, a campaign that advocates for representation of women on the boards of some of the world’s biggest companies, I am deeply concerned by the failures that have engulfed the CBI. Our thoughts are with the women who have been victimised and we stand with them in solidarity.

Our fear at the 30% Club is that the failings currently under investigation are not limited to the CBI. Last year, Randstad reported that 72 per cent of women working in technology, healthcare, education and construction said they had either encountered or witnessed inappropriate behaviour from male colleagues at work. And analysis by the Scottish TUC reported that 85 per cent of women said that their reporting and experience of sexual harassment in the workplace was not taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. What is alleged to have happened at the CBI is indicative of this very issue.

A toxic workplace culture is a significant factor in the continued under-representation of women in business leadership and why gender equality can so often feel like a distant goal. We may be close to 40 per cent women on boards across the FTSE 100, but there are just nine female chief executives. We need greater representation of women at the top. Women should be taken seriously at work. Women, and quite frankly everyone, should be safe at work.

Hanneke Smits
Global Chair, The 30% Club

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

Gender balance almost achieved for ethnic minority directors

Diverse directors

Across the FTSE 350, the numbers of ethnic minority directors are currently balanced almost equally between men and women, with 48% being women (47% in the FTSE 100, 48% in the FTSE 250). 

The data emerged today from the latest update on the Parker Review – the business-led, UK government backed initiative that sets voluntary race equity targets for Britain PLC. 

The 30% Club is proud to support the Parker Review with our own targets for the FTSE 350 to have at least one ethnic minority director or member of the executive committee by the end of 2023 and for half of those newly created seats to go to women of colour.  

Today’s update also confirmed that 96 of the FTSE 100 had at least one ethnic minority director by the end of December 2022, up from 47% in 2016 and largely meeting the Parker Review’s initial target for Britain’s biggest companies. 

Of course, a single ethnic minority director is just the start of the change we need to see and so it was encouraging to see that half of those FTSE 100 companies actually had more than one ethnic minority director by the end of last year.

But as we have seen in the gender diversity space, there is still so much to be done if true equity is to be achieved.

It remains the case that the vast majority of ethnic minority directors occupy non-executive roles. In the FTSE 100, for example, while the data revealed ethnic minority directors now account for 18% of all directorships, just six ethnic minority directors held a chair position, only seven were CEOs and nine were CFOs.

However, there are many practical things company leaders can do to bring about change from collecting more and better data to taking part in reverse mentoring. 

For example, the 30% Club is helping organisations build on their commitment to race equity with our Leaders for Race Equity programme, run in partnership with the CBI’s Change the Race Ratio and Moving Ahead.

We match CEOs with ethnic minority executives from outside their organisations to learn from each other’s experiences and challenges while also attending working groups with their HR and D&I leads on topics ranging from data to AI to inform and improve corporate action on race equity.

We hope this initiative will help our CEO members deliver impactful leadership in race equity throughout their organisations to ensure a wide pipeline of diverse talent progressing and thriving right to the very top.
Parker Review stats
Leaders for Race Equity

The Parker Review has set new targets for December 2027:

  • – Each FTSE 350 company will be asked to set a percentage target for senior management positions that will be occupied by ethnic minority executives in December 2027
  • – 50 of the UK’s largest private companies have been set the target of having at least one ethnic minority director on the main board by December 2027. 
  • – Each company will also be asked to set a target for the percentage of ethnic minority executives within its senior management team 


You can read more about the targets and access the rest of the Parker Review data by clicking the box below. 


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

Gender-balanced boards more likely to push for better company culture

What female directors prioritise

What diversity delivers

The 30% Club, in partnership with board advisory specialists Lintstock, has today issued new qualitative analysis based on the engagement of male and female directors in 100 FTSE board reviews in a report titled Evidencing the Contribution of Gender Balance to Board Effectiveness.  

The survey showcases the difference gender diversity makes to the running of corporate boards, with a significant finding that women are more likely than men to focus on emerging issues, notably company culture and employee development.

In addition, female directors were also more likely to offer criticism and recommendations for improvement on both their own performance and their business activities.

The past twenty years have irrevocably changed the way businesses think about board composition and the impact this has on decision-making, with a push for greater gender diversity at the forefront of this shift in perception.

Through examining the engagement of male and female directors in board reviews, this study illustrates how gender diversity contributes positively to board performance. The findings show that gender balance is no longer a question of fairness, but that of effectiveness.



Despite the increased focus on ethnic diversity, the analysis highlights there have yet to be any examples of boards truly grappling with diversity in its wider forms, with some mismatches occurring between diversity ambitions and boards’ actions.

By demonstrating the link between diversity and effective oversight, we hope that this study will renew the impetus of boards to go beyond the traditional candidate pool, to secure directors with a broader set of skills and backgrounds.




Other key findings…

  • – Female directors are more likely to identify the need for further board diversity in areas such as age, culture and social background

  • – Women are three times more likely to recommend greater ethnic diversity than their male colleagues

  • – Women engaged heavily on employee sentiment and culture and were over 50% more likely to serve as a designated non-executive director for engaging with the workforce – the most frequently adopted employee engagement mechanism
  • – Women were 50% more inclined to raise ESG performance as an area for improvement.
What women want
Hanneke Smits

Hanneke Smits, global chair of the 30% Club and CEO of BNY Investment Management, said: “The findings further confirm that a more gender diverse group of board members will consider a greater variety of issues and ask a wider range of questions. Of particular importance in the report is the evidence that female board directors place a greater priority on hiring diverse teams and therefore increasing access to a broader pool of skills and experience.


“Against the backdrop of a challenging macro and geopolitical environment, it’s critical that companies harness the power of diverse talent at all levels of their organisation to succeed. At the 30% Club our focus is unwavering: diversity must remain on the board agenda and there is genuine progress to ensure current, and future, executive leadership teams better represent the society we live in.”


Neil Alderton, a partner at Lintstock, said: “Oversight of employees was becoming a headline concern for boards even before the upheaval of COVID-19 and findings from our study reveals that female board members are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to identify the need to focus on people development and improving the diversity of the workforce.


“Better gender balance is not only a question of fairness – our findings show that it is also a matter of effectiveness. We see that diversity of gender contributes to diversity of thought around a number of board performance areas, broadening boards’ horizons and bolstering the support and challenge that directors are able to provide as a collective.”


30% Club Ireland launches 2023 scholarships

30% Club Ireland

The 30% Club Ireland, whose aim is to achieve better gender balance at all levels in Irish businesses, has announced two new development opportunities for women in business – a 2023 programme of 27 postgraduate and executive education scholarships and, in partnership with AIB, 30 access opportunities for women in SMEs on the IMI/30% Club cross-company mentoring programme.

The scholarship programme, which is delivered in partnership with key education providers, covers a range of executive education disciplines including prestigious MBA programmes and technical masters programmes in STEM, Healthcare, Public Policy and other specialist areas. 

First offered in 2015, the annual programme aims to raise participation rates for women in, and general awareness of, executive education and to provide financial support for women interested in executive education, who may be limited by funding concerns. 


Gillian Harford, Country Executive with the 30% Club commented: “International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th. But it is about more than celebrating just one day, it is about taking real and practical steps that will help to bring about more balanced investment in talent and career progression.

“Having offered just three scholarships in year one, we are delighted now to be offering 27 scholarships for 2023”, said Ms Harford. “In addition to providing great opportunities for talented women, the programme gives us, and our education partners, the opportunity to encourage more diversity in executive classrooms for greater learning outcomes.”

The scholarship programme is open to all women and is not restricted to 30% Club member company supporters.

In partnership with AIB, the 30% Club has also announced a new 3-year initiative that will provide sponsored access for 30 women from the SME sector to the IMI/30% Club Cross Company Mentoring programme.  The IMI/30% Club programme started in 2015 and brings together experienced leaders and mid-career high potential individuals for mentoring focused on both professional and personal development.


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

Hanneke Smits welcomed as 30% Club global chair

Hanneke Smits
Our new Global Chair Hanneke Smits is CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management

The 30% Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, as its fourth Global Chair, succeeding Ann Cairns.

Hanneke has been a long-time champion of improving gender diversity in the workplace. In 2015, she co-founded Level 20, a not-for-profit organisation established to inspire women to succeed in the private equity industry.

Hanneke also serves as Chair of Impetus, a venture philanthropy organisation that backs charities to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people.

At BNY Mellon, Hanneke is the Executive Sponsor of PRISM, the company’s LGBTQ+ employee group, and as CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management since October 2020, one of the largest asset managers in the world with $1.8 trillion in assets under management.

She has championed numerous initiatives such as Newton’s work with the Diversity Project to ensure that returning female portfolio managers were able to maintain their investment track record, and BNY Mellon’s partnership with Inspiring Girls through The Pathway to Inclusive Investment research in 2022, and being an early supporter of the UK’s #10000BlackInterns programme.

Hanneke succeeds Ann Cairns as global chair of the 30% Club.

Ann, who retired as Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard at the end of 2022, joined the campaign in 2019 as Co-Chair, working with the late Brenda Trenowden before becoming sole global Chair in 2020.

Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, said:  “It is an honour to succeed Ann Cairns as Global Chair of the 30% Club and to continue its mission of increasing the number of women at board and senior management levels.

“The role of the 30% Club is as vital now as it was at launch in 2010. Even today, the baseline target of reaching 30% women – either at board or senior management level – remains a stretch for many organisations throughout the world. Reaching the campaign’s ultimate goal of gender parity will take significant effort and investment.

“I look forward to continuing to grow the 30% Club internationally and tackle a wider range of diversity challenges, inside and outside the boardroom.”

30% Club Global
Ann Cairns
Outgoing chair Ann Cairns expanded the 30% Club internationally

Under the leadership of Ann, the 30% Club formed new chapters in Mexico, Colombia and Chile and welcomed Poland, Ecuador and an investor group in France to the campaign.

Her involvement with UN Women’s Outstanding Women’s Leaders Group saw the 30% Club, Melinda French-Gates and the UN Foundation convene what is presumed to be the world’s biggest meeting of CEOs and company chairs to discuss gender equality in May 2021.

Cairns also broadened the UK chapter’s target to focus on racial equality, which included the launch of the Mission INCLUDE strand of the 30% Club’s world-leading and cross-company mentoring programme enabling individuals from all underrepresented groups to participate.

She also launched the Leaders for Race Equity CEO development programme last year in partnership with Change the Race Ratio and Moving Ahead.

Ann Cairns, outgoing Global Chair of the 30% Club, said: “On behalf of the members of the 30% Club, we are proud to welcome Hanneke as our new Global Chair. It will be invaluable to have a respected leader of Hanneke’s experience and calibre join the global campaign at a time when many companies are still struggling to achieve diversity at board and executive levels.

“In the UK, for instance, we may have reached 40% women on the boards of the FTSE 100, but the majority remain in non-executive roles; there are just 25% women at executive committee level and just eight female CEOs. Women of colour remain under-represented at every managerial and leadership level. We must continue to keep diversity and inclusion high on the agenda.”

This is the second time BNY Mellon Investment Management has taken a leadership role within the 30% Club. The campaign was launched in 2010 by Dame Helena Morrissey, who was the then CEO of Newton Investment Management, one of BNY Mellon Investment Management’s investment firms.

Newton and BNY Mellon Investment Management were early supporters of the campaign’s goals and helped encourage many chairs of Britain’s biggest companies to commit to the initial target of 30% women on their boards. This target was reached across the FTSE 100 in September 2019 and there are now 40% women on boards.

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.

The 30% Club would like to thank UK steering committee member Karin Barnick, a partner at executive search and leadership advisory firm Korn Ferry in London, who led the search for the new global chair on a pro bono basis. 

Work to do

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

Investors given tool to boost gender equity in net zero race

The Women in Finance Climate Action Group has developed a framework to help financial institutions support women in the net zero transition and limit the negative impact of climate change on women.

The 30% Club is delighted to support the rollout of this first-of-its-kind framework specifically for private investors and the key role they play in financing net zero.

Integrating a gender lens into climate investments is important to value women as key stakeholders in solutions, to ensure not only a better path, a more ‘Just Transition’, but also a shorter one, unleashing the potential of women as changemakers, in finance and in who and what is being financed.


Women remain under-represented in climate finance


The Women in Finance Climate Group argues that whilst climate change disproportionately impacts women, women remain seriously under-represented in climate policy, climate decision-making and climate finance.

The Action Framework, created in collaboration with the Oliver Wyman Forum and 2X Global, is available to download here.

The Women in Finance Climate Action Group comprises women leaders from business, the public sector and civil society and includes Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF-UK and Sarah Breeden, Executive Director at the Bank of England.


Amanda Blanc, Aviva’s Group CEO, said: “Private capital is key to mobilising the trillions of dollars required over the next three decades to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. And yet the global private finance sector does not currently have the tools or incentives in place to evaluate and improve the impact of climate finance on gender equality.

“We need more data to measure the impact of specific climate investments or project financing on women and girls. We hope this Framework will give financial institutions what they need to begin to measure and deliver greater gender equality when taking action on net zero.”

Rupal Kantaria, Partner, Oliver Wyman Forum and head of climate for the 30% Club, added: “This first-of-its-kind Action Framework for investors embeds gender considerations into climate investment decisions. Both are critical for financing a faster and more just climate transition.”




Amanda Blanc and Rupal Kantaria

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

French investors reveal gains for women’s leadership

Screenshot 2023-01-16 at 12.56.17

According to the 30% Club France Investor Group’s annual report, gender diversity is improving in the SBF 120 but there is still a long way to go.

The 30% Club France Investor Group is pleased to announce the publication of its second annual report. In its second year of the campaign, the 30% Club France Investor Group conducted a wide variety of activities to engage with corporates, stakeholders, and experts, enabling us to develop key observations regarding gender diversity in France.

The 30% Club France Investor Group are stewards of France’s investee companies. Part of that responsibility includes the assessment of their executive management teams. Since 2017, listed companies in France must have a minimum of 40% of women on the Board of Directors under the Copé Zimmermann law. The Rixain Law adopted in 2021 also enforces that Executive Committees have 30% female representation by 2027 and 40% by 2030. 


Last year, the Investor group conducted 18 in-person engagement meetings and conversations and observed that:

– Compared to last year, companies are both more open to engaging with us and more prepared. 

– There is positive momentum emerging in the form of action plans and targeted goals, but these targets as well as their scopes (i.e., the executive body targeted) and time horizons lack homogeneity, making it difficult to work towards the goal of 30% female representation at the highest levels of management.

– Two opposite trends are coming into play. The COVID-19 crisis had a disproportionately negative impact on women in attracting, retaining, and promoting talent while the enforcement of the Rixain Law acted as an accelerator of awareness for the importance of gender diversity.



Member of the French Parliament, Marie-Pierre Rixain said:

By making equality between women and men the great concern of his five-year term, President Emmanuel Macron has helped accelerate the march of history. Indeed, a certain number of blockages in our collective organization still constrain women’s economic room to maneuver and lead to a cascade of consequences. With this in mind, I drafted a bill in 2021 that enshrines new economic rights for women thus allowing them to conquer their status as free and autonomous economic actors.

The number of requests I receive proves that this issue is on the table for all companies now more than ever. Finally, our country is thinking about how to make half of the working population a source of value creation, wealth, and jobs. 

I believe that an increasingly significant proportion of large companies have taken measures for the challenge of gender diversity. In this respect, the law that I introduced – which marks a major change in the management and retention of corporate talent – will accelerate this dynamic by imposing ambitious but achievable targets for the players concerned.

Global Head Sustainable & Impact Investment, Allianz Global Investors, Matt Christensen said: 

“In the two years since the initiative’s launch, I’m pleased to see that the importance of gender diversity is increasingly acknowledged within French companies and that encouraging progress in terms of female representation on executive leadership teams is visible.

Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. By pooling our efforts under the 30% Club France, we as investors can help move the lines faster to drive genuine and sustainable change by looking not only at the executive committee but also at how companies build a gender-diverse talent pipeline. The 30% by 2025 is the floor, not the ceiling. The Rixain Law on economic and professional equity for women sets 40% by 2030 as the next frontier. We are willing to do our part!”

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

NEW: 30% Club Podcast – Episode 2 featuring Penny James & Nimesh Patel

More episodes coming soon!


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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