Boardroom inequality is more pronounced in unlisted companies than those listed on share indexes, a new study has established.
Research conducted by the Observer has revealed that a number of major firms that cannot be found on the FTSE 100 or FTSE 250 stock exchanges - including Virgin Trains, Fitness First and Gala Coral - have no female representation on their boards.
Indeed, statistics compiled by BoardEx show that 56 of the 100 leading private organisations in the UK have men only in their most senior roles, while 36 do not currently publish the details of their boardroom composition.
By contrast, just eight of the companies on the FTSE 100 indices have all-male boards - a figure that rises to 28 when all members of the FTSE 250 are taken into consideration.
Females were also found to be widely under-represented in the bracket just below boardroom level within large private organisations, as 73 per cent of the 100 biggest firms have an all-male team of executive directors.
Last month, research carried out by Experian BusinessIQ revealed that an increasing number of women are now succeeding with their applications to be promoted to boardroom-level roles.
For instance, there was an increase of 24 per cent in women being offered directorship positions in the UK between 2007 and 2012 - a markedly higher number than the 15 per cent hike in men taking on these roles over the same timeframe.
Max Firth, managing director of Experian's Business Information Services division, explained that small and medium-sized enterprises have been the main "driving force" behind this trend.
However, the Observer's survey indicates that plenty of work still needs to be done to bring about a new era of improved gender equality at major British companies.
Chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute Ann Francke told the news source these findings are "disappointing" as they "underscore the endemic nature of the issue".
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Posted by Chris Stevenson