A diverse board meeting

Good practice for diversity on boards

Examples of good practice

We surveyed all FTSE 350 companies. Many of these companies provided us with examples of what they were doing to improve diversity in board recruitment and in the talent pipeline. Our objective was to highlight and share this good practice across the sector. 

Below you can find some of the examples of good practice reported by the companies.

We'd like to thank the companies who responded to our survey.

Setting aspirational diversity targets for appointments


  • Our 2020 gender diversity goal is to have at least 40% female representation within senior management levels. 
  • Have set a public goal, via Helping Britain Prosper Plan released in March 2014, of having 40% of senior management roles held by women by 2020.
  • Gender objectives became a formal goal in 2013.  Since 2011 have achieved a year on year increase of 1% - increasing our representation to 22% for women in senior roles.  At Executive Committee level, 50% of leaders who have P&L responsibility are female.

Ending reliance on personal networks  and using positive action to improve the diversity of the candidate pool


  • Post all open positions on a number of diversity websites to increase the number of women and diverse candidates for all positions including senior positions.
  • Introduced a Diversity Code of Conduct for search firms to adopt when supporting recruitment efforts at all levels.
  • Advertised the Non- Executive Director and the Group People Director role on external websites.
  • Reviewing all formal recruitment schemes to develop a standard framework ensuring both shortlists and interview panels are suitably diverse.
  • Key diversity and inclusion messages, including unconscious bias, are being incorporated into the revised curriculum for interview training.

Offering training, development and leadership programmes to improve the gender balance


  • Development: A lateral moves programme for high potential women is being trialled to address the previously identified issue of inadequate operational experience for women as a barrier to progression.
  • Over 95% of our senior female population have attended an Executive Leadership Development Programme preparing them for strategic leadership and change management thus enabling them to lead organisation wide initiatives and programmes.
  • Talent Mapping. Planning at all management levels in our organisation. This enables creation of individual development plans for those with the potential to progress into more senior roles
  • Succession planning process, which includes two reviews per annum at the Executive Board and business line levels, now identifies and reviews development plans for the numbers of both men and women who make up the talent pool of future or emerging leaders.
  • Launched its Enterprise for Women Group over 3 years ago. The Group was created to help and encourage networking and career development for women no matter what stage of their career they are at, whether a front line colleague or in a management or leadership role. The Group, its intranet site and its events are open to all.
  • Women's Leadership Council that links senior women across all regions and is committed to supporting women throughout the organisation to develop and fulfil their potential
  • Over 95% of our senior female population have attended an Executive Leadership Development Programme preparing them for strategic leadership and change management thus enabling them to lead organisation wide initiatives and programmes.
  • Aim is to bring together senior women, executives and non-executive board members to discuss the issues on women reaching the boardroom and exchange advice on how best to do this. Objectives are: to hear from accomplished and experts in their field;  to provide a forum in which women with boardroom experience can offer the benefit of all of our experience to women who may gain from it in the future. To provide a forum for dialogue between female members of the investment community and the organisations which are crucial to the wider economy.
  • Women's Business Education Forum: an opportunity for women to network with senior and high potential people. Mentoring programme: a two-way mentoring programme in which senior leaders mentor and learn from high potential women. Developing the female talent pipeline: a leadership development programme for women piloted in the group's UK grocery business. 

Adopting management practices that support women’s career progression


  • Large investments in technology to enable employees to work flexibly from different locations, making it easier, especially for women, to balance work and family obligations.
  • More agile working patterns, including greater job sharing, part time working and weekend only positions are being examined by several parts of the business. Revised maternity guidance will be issued and a maternity buddying pilot is underway.
  • Flexible working policies for all that create an environment where women want to work. Values based culture that offers learning and development and a focus on leadership capability at all levels to establish a pool of talent that is diverse and knows how to navigate the landscape of the company.
  • Female managers in the UK has increased to 47% from a baseline of 31% in 2012; staff turnover has decreased by 7.1% in the period from 2012 to 2014 as a result of the many employee engagement initiatives we have implemented, for example, enhanced rewards, flexible working, maternity coaching; the UK mentoring programme now has over 150 women actively using this scheme.

Last updated: 29 Nov 2016