Female leadership lagging in PE-backed and family-owned businesses

23 April 2021

Private businesses falling short on diversity at board level

Our latest research shows PE-backed and family-owned businesses are lagging behind listed companies in gender diversity at board level.

Women make up just 13% of boards at PE-backed businesses and just 10% of boards at family owned companies compared to 34% of boards at FTSE 350 companies. The research is based on an analysis of the UK’s 350 largest PE-backed businesses, 350 largest privately owned businesses and 350 largest listed businesses.

Large listed companies have been under pressure from groups such as the Fawcett Society and Women On Boards to improve gender diversity for many years. In 2016, the Hampton-Alexander Review was set up to ensure FTSE 350 companies reached 33% female board-level representation. This target was reached in December 2020.

As yet, no such major initiative has been launched for unlisted companies.

However, at NSCG we’re increasingly seeing business looking for support in tackling challenges of gender diversity at every level – but especially on boards. It’s a trend that’s set to continue as PE-owned and family-owned businesses are becoming more aware of the commercial benefits listed businesses have received by increasing gender diversity.

Whilst the argument for diversity is undeniable, implementing change can be challenging and won’t happen overnight. We believe slow and steady progress will be made across industries over the coming years but would encourage businesses to not wait to be pressured by groups to make change. Those who take initiative now will fair best – just ask the shareholders of FTSE 350 companies with female board representation who are benefitting from a 15.2% net profit margin versus a 1.5% in those with zero female representation.*



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