// JD Sports named as one of the FTSE 350 companies lacking gender diversity in the boardroom
// The Investment Association wrote to 69 businesses on the index about the issue
// It has also set an aim of having 33% of women in the boardroom and leadership team by 2020
JD Sports has been targeted for the lack of gender diversity within the boardroom.
The Investment Association found over 60 companies on the FTSE 350 index, of which the sports retailer is a part, regarding the low number of women in the boardroom and provided questions on how to increase the numbers.
It has also set an aim of having 33 per cent of women in the boardroom and leadership team by 2020.
This initiative by The Investment Association comes after the news in February that it would label firms with a “red top” and enforce investors to hire more women.
Meanwhile, the results showed 66 companies out of 69 had only one woman on their board, while three property investors have an all-male board.
The Investment Association boss Chris Cummings said it was “unacceptable” that one in five of the UK’s biggest companies were lacking gender diversity.
“Companies must do more than take the tokenistic step of appointing just one woman to their board and consider that job done,” he said.
“There is also compelling evidence that boards with greater gender balance outperform their less diverse peers.”
The Hampton-Alexander review was commissioned by the government in 2016 to deal with corporate gender inequality and set targets for Britain’s biggest companies.
Meanwhile, the review chairman Sir Philip Hampton said: “Most companies have made great progress in gender diversity in their boardrooms and senior executive leadership.
“But there’s a surprising number of boards with just one woman, which looks more like tokenism than diversity.
“It also does not reflect the population of very talented women capable of making great contributions in boardrooms.”
Moreover, business select committee chair Rachel Reeves MP said the low number of women in executive positions can obstruct the progress as gender pay gaps are highest in sectors with few women executives.
“The time for our biggest companies to remedy the lack of gender diversity is long overdue and they need to set out what actions they are taking to make progress,” Reeves said.
“The role of investors is important here too and they need to assert themselves to ensure that diversity is reflected more visibly at board level.”