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Hopes for more diverse boards rise after London IPOs had only 15% of women directors in 2022

Anne Boden is founder and CEO of Starling Bank,  which is expected to float on the London Stock Exchange  (Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Anne Boden is founder and CEO of Starling Bank, which is expected to float on the London Stock Exchange (Getty Images for TechCrunch)

After women made up only 15% of the directors on newly listed London company’s boards last year, there are hopes that 2023 will be better for gender diversity as well as initial public offerings in the City.

Accoring to research from Investec, there are a dozen high-profile names preparing for a listing this year, after a notoriously poor run for flotations in 2022. Of the 97 seats on all their boards, the bank and wealth manager found that 25 are filled by women, making up 26%.

While still some way under the 50% mark, it is an improvement from the even lower levels in 2022. And one of the IPO candidates is run by one of the UK’s highest-profile entrepreneurs, Anne Boden, who founded Starling Bank.

Investec’s Michelle White said there remained “much work needed” to address “the lack of gender diversity  in UK PLC”, pointing out: “Not only are there very few women in the UK’s major boardrooms, many of those women who are board directors hold non-exec roles.”

As well as Starling, the companies Investec expects to list this year are Revolut, Dowlais, EG Group, Monzo, BrewDog, Jaguar Land Rover, Huel, Snowfox Group, McLaren Group, Zopa and Virgin Atlantic.

White added that she had seen “huge growth in the number of our female clients, many of whom are successful business owners,” adding: “From our experience, PLCs would be wise to do more to tap into this huge pool of talent and provide equal opportunities for women to take on senior roles within their organisations.”

The Financial Conduct Authority announced targets last year for listed companies to disclose whether they were meeting targets on representation, which include that 40% of the board should be women, including at least one senior position.

On the FTSE 350, there has also been some progress, with women’s share of board seats reaching 40% in 2022.

But significant under representation remains.

Separate research from Frank Recruitment Group reveals that over the last five years, only 42 women have held posts as chief information officers at FTSE 100 companies, compared with 138 men.

And there were only 10 more female CIOs in 2022 compared with 2018, highlighting the continued male dominance of the jobs that oversee IT and digital parts of the UK’s top businesses.

According to Frank Recruitment, visibility is vital to improving diversity and “rethinking the hiring process entirely” can be necessary for improvement to take hold.