A company's office building is shown at Canary Wharf in London, England, where much of the city's finance industry is located. Picture: 123RF/ MELINDA NAGY
A company's office building is shown at Canary Wharf in London, England, where much of the city's finance industry is located. Picture: 123RF/ MELINDA NAGY

London — Britain’s biggest listed companies will miss an official gender equality target unless one in every two senior hires in the next year are women, according to a new study.

Many in the FTSE 100 index of top listed companies are “well adrift” of the goal that one in three senior jobs should be held by women by the end of next year, said the Hampton-Alexander Review, which analyses gender representation.

It found just under 29% of leadership roles in the FTSE 100 are held by women — up slightly from 27% last year — and only about one in three available roles go to female applicants.

A separate goal that one in three positions on FTSE 100 company boards should be held by women was likely to be met, according to the Hampton-Alexander Review, an independent body set up by the government in 2016 to monitor progress.

“Research has repeatedly shown that appointing women is good for business, but companies are dragging their feet,” said Gemma Roseblatt, head of policy and campaigns at the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women's rights.

“While on the surface it appears that representation of women on boards has increased, we know that many of these women are in nonexecutive roles. It’s time to give women real power, not just a seat at the table to observe.”

The report was published a day before British Equal Pay Day, which marks the date when women in the country effectively start to work for free because their salaries lag behind men’s.

A Reuters analysis of gender pay data in April showed financial services firms in Britain had made little progress in narrowing the gap between male and female pay and more than a third had gone backwards since last year.

Thomson Reuters Foundation