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UK Government Must Foster Greater Gender Equality

A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on ESG has recommended that the UK government make “clear statements” that call for progress towards gender equality in entrepreneurship and for corporate progress to “rapidly accelerate”. In February, the UK Government celebrated that just over 40% of FTSE 350 board positions were occupied by women, well ahead of its 2025 deadline. However, the FTSE 100 index only features nine female CEOs. According to the report’s foreword from the APPG’s Chairman Alexander Stafford, just three women were among the 20 newly-appointed CEOs in the year to May 2023 and, out of 22 chair roles, only four went to women. The APPG’s inaugural report on the ‘S’ pillar of ESG advocates a separate 40% target for executive board positions, among other recommendations to spur momentum. The APPG said that the government should continue to support and “heighten the visibility” of the women-led high-growth enterprise taskforce. The report suggests that the government use a “largely voluntary approach” but ensure that different initiatives function “in coordination” with each other. It also recommended coordination between female entrepreneurship and corporate equality to ensure greater progress is made. The APPG called for a levelling up of the 40% board target. This would mean the target is only met if women held at least 40% of executive board positions. It also suggested widening the scope of the target to include the 500 largest publicly listed companies and 100 largest private companies. Further, it suggested the government create a new unit as part of the Gender Pay Gap Service to coordinate initiatives towards achieving corporate gender equality, and publish guidance on how to avoid gender washing. The APPG is the UK’s cross-party group dedicated to sustainable finance. 

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