Boyden Executive Search

Claire Lauder and Francesca d’Arcangeli – leadership recruitment experts in manufacturing – talk through some of the findings from Boyden’s most recent European study on gender diversity.

By Francesca d'Arcangeli, Claire Lauder

This article was also published on The Manufacturer's website. Click here to view the article.

Claire Lauder and Francesca d’Arcangeli – leadership recruitment experts in manufacturing – talk through some of the findings from Boyden’s most recent European study on gender diversity.


PepsiCo have recently announced that their CEO of 12 years, Indra Nooyi is to step down. She will be replaced by global operations chief, Ramon Laguarta, and it’s been well publicised that this is yet another female CEO being replaced by a male successor.

Her departure leaves only 22 women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, 10 down from 2016. It’s a similar story in the UK, with just seven female CEOs in the FTSE 100, and women continuing to be outnumbered by male CEOs named ‘David’ or ‘John’.

Research by PwC showed that 85% of CEOs whose companies had a formal diversity and inclusion strategy improved their bottom line, enhanced innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction and talent attraction.

PepsiCo is an example of this approach, where sales grew 80% during Indra’s tenure and she spearheaded the company becoming a greener and more environmentally aware organisation.

Food for thought

The UK food and beverage market is worth a staggering £95.4bn, and the top 10 UK manufacturers in this market all have male leaders. Just like PepsiCo, Moy Park – one of the larger UK-based food and beverage manufacturers – replaced their female CEO, Janet McCollum with male CEO, Chris Kirke earlier in 2018.

Last year, Diageo topped the Cranfield Unversity’s female FTSE board report with the most female directors and executives, but did not have a female at the very top of their organisation.

Boyden recognise the part that executive search firms have to play in helping address the lack of gender diversity in leadership succession. We realised that within Europe there is plenty of quantitative data on how few female CEOs there are, but we lack qualitative information on why.

During Q1 2018, Boyden conducted interviews with around 100 leading females across Europe.

Barriers and solutions

Boyden wanted to try and understand the potential regional barriers women faced to achieve advancement, and what influences made it possible for them to get there. Obstacles included their personal environment, and it was clear that a supportive spouse was key to achieving advancement. Old-school management was the overriding barrier, with 32% of respondents saying it was the main obstacle they faced.

In the UK, mentoring by a male or female senior leader in the business was significant. Having a role model, mentor and sponsor helped open doors. Networking was another major UK factor that senior women found crucial to advancing their career, something that many females confess to not doing enough of.

The research uncovered many UK-specific trends, as well as trends across Europe. If you would like to know more about the outputs from Boyden’s recent European survey, and how Boyden are working with organisations to help diversify and enable their workforce, then please do get in touch.


Help Boyden to #DisruptTheNorm | Click here to read more about our diversity work.

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