Of the G7’s biggest listed companies, less than one percent (0.6%) can count women as their top three earners. This is according to analysis by ESG Book, a global leader in sustainability data and technology.
Looking at 3,915 of the largest listed companies across the G7, ESG Book reveals a widespread lack of female representation across the highest salaried positions in business. Fewer than one in five (17.9%) can count at least one woman among their top three earners, and just 2.3% have two women among their three highest paying roles.
Despite this lack of representation at the highest level, ESG Book’s analysis also reveals companies’ lack of direction when it comes to improving gender diversity.
Just 29% of G7 companies have an equal opportunity and diversity policy, and only 14% of G7 companies have specific diversity targets. And of the companies that do have targets, 12% of these do not have plans backed by key performance indicators (KPIs), indicating no ability to track progress.
The UK and France have the highest percentages of companies with diversity targets and policies. The US is the worst performing country on these measures, with only 8% of companies having diversity targets. Of those, 19% lack any KPIs.
Corporate diversity has consistently been linked to higher financial performance. And ESG Book found last year that companies with more women on their boards are more likely to be on track to meet global climate goals. The study showed the most diverse 20% of the world’s 1,000 biggest companies were more aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5C above the pre-industrial average by 2050.
ESG Book head of US ESG solutions Maria Mähl said: “Many critics have accused promoting environmental, social or governance factors in investment decisions as ‘woke capitalism’, but the data says it leads to better capitalism.
“The link between gender diversity and improved financial and climate performance is now irrefutable.
“We now need detailed information on companies’ gender diversity to be as abundant and accessible as companies’ financial information. This way, gender diversity will function as a market signal that influences investor calculations on profit and risk.”
Progress on boardroom diversity has been widely celebrated recently. In February women made up nearly 40% of top table FTSE 100 roles. However, ESG Book’s analysis shows that boardroom diversity falls when expanding the pool of companies analysed.
Across the G7 the average percentage of females in boardrooms is 25%. In Japan, the worst performing country, the percentage falls to 11%, while only 5% of Japanese companies have policies to promote boardroom diversity. France is the best performing country by this measure, with 44% of boardroom roles taken by women.