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Boardroom diversity

Research suggests that companies with more diverse boards perform better and take fewer risks. Find latest research, reports, articles and guides on legal and regulatory initiatives in the UK and around the world to increase representation and diversity on corporate boards.

We have a separate page on the Women On Boards Davies report and the UK Corporate Governance Code.

What's on this page?

  • eBooks
  • Briefings
  • Online articles
  • Useful links
  • Books and articles from the library

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Featured eBook

It's not a glass ceiling, it's a sticky floor: free yourself from the hidden behaviors sabotaging your career success
Shambaugh, Rebecca (McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2007)

Admit it: You've probably been ‘stuck’ in at least one or more of these situations. Maybe you're a perfectionist who has trouble letting go of a task. Maybe you're so loyal to your company that you haven't explored other career options. Maybe you're afraid of speaking up in meetings. Or maybe you're so accommodating to others' needs that you never take care of your own. This book will show you how to get unstuck from these common traps.

You will need to be logged-in to the website to read this eBook.

Featured article

Why diversity programs fail

Sheds light on what doesn’t work and what does with regards to diversity programs.

You will need to be logged in to the website to gain full access to the range of articles available online.


The Library provides full text access to a selection of key business and reference eBooks from leading publishers. eBooks are available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users. If you are unable to access an eBook, please see our Help and support advice or contact library@icaew.com.

Ideas for leaders collection

A collection of the latest global management and business thinking summarised into straight forward and understandable language. This collection comes in 7 volumes covering the following: Volume 1: Strategic leadership; Volume 2: Corporate culture and performance; Volume 3: Innovation & entrepreneurship; Volume 4: Strategy and operations; Volume 5: Leaders behaviour and development; Volume 6: Networks & communications; Volume 7: Customer focus; Volume 8: Governance, risk and corporate social responsibility.

It's not a glass ceiling, it's a sticky floor: free yourself from the hidden behaviours sabotaging your career success

Aims to build career development skills for women in business. Includes chapters on work-life balance, communication skills, and self-confidence.

Woman's place is in the boardroom, A

The book makes the case for promoting women to the board of directors. It includes interviews and case studies of women in business to support the argument that board diversity creates more value for shareholders.

Woman's place is in the boardroom, A: the roadmap

Guide to implementing organizational change to improve gender equality. It is especially concerned with establishing women on the board of directors.

Women in business: the changing face of leadership

Covers various experiences of organisational change with a view to increasing the number of women in leadership positions. The book offers a number of models and strategies for implementing change and creating board diversity. The authors interview numerous women in business and report on their experiences of change in organisational culture.

Women leading

The authors consider the unique skills and abilities possessed by women and how they can be applied in leadership roles. It addresses the changing role of women in business, including increases in board diversity and the number of female leaders in different fields.

Terms of use: You are permitted to access, download, copy, or print out content from eBooks for your own research or study only, subject to the terms of use set by our suppliers and any restrictions imposed by individual publishers. Please see individual supplier pages for full terms of use.


Briefings are four-page guides from Atom Content Marketing written for the busy practitioner, director and entrepreneur providing concise, practical advice on core business issues.

Build your company's board

The board of directors has an essential role in company governance and setting the strategic direction of the business. The right board of directors brings your company specialist knowledge and expertise in key business areas, such as management, finance or technology.

Directors' responsibilities

Company directors are responsible for the management of their companies. They must act in a way most likely to promote the success of the business and benefit its shareholders. They also have responsibilities to the company’s employees, its trading partners, and the state.

Effective board meetings

Successful companies use board meetings to create and improve key business strategies. A similar approach can benefit smaller businesses and strategy meetings in general.

Disclaimer: These publications from Atom Content Marketing are for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

Online articles

The ICAEW Library & Information Service provides access to a range of articles in full text from leading business, finance and management journals. This resource is available to ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

You will need to be logged-in to the website to gain full access to the range of articles available online.

Deviating from traditional career paths can strengthen firmwide diversity

Article on diversity and inclusion in accounting firms, featuring a case study from Frazier & Deeter. Putting employees together in new projects where they can help shape team culture from the start or developing 'affinity groups' are ways to ensure that potential partners from diverse backgrounds have opportunities to develop supportive relationships.

Questioning management and encouraging challenge

Tips for board members on securing balanced advice, identifying relevant board input and avoiding the pitfall of relying on colleagues who are afraid to challenge them.

Gender parity by 2055

A short progress update on the proportion of directorships held by women at US publicly traded companies. Bill Proudman argues that American companies cannot afford to wait until 2055 to achieve gender parity.

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Reports and surveys

A report into the ethnic diversity of UK Boards: "Beyond One by ‘21"
The findings of the Parker Review into ethnic diversity in UK boardrooms, published in November 2016 in association with EY and Linklaters. Recommendations include that each FTSE 100 Board should have at least one director of colour by 2021 and each FTSE 250 Board by 2024.

The commercial advantage of more women in the boardroom
Study by Women in Retail and Elixirr looking at gender balance within the UK retail sector. Published in June 2016.

Women in Finance Survey 2017
Survey being compiled by Virgin Money in association with HM Treasury looking at gender diversity in the financial services sector. The 2016 Ghadia Report - Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the Talents of Women in Financial Services is also available to download.

Women in Financial Services 2016
Report by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman on gender diversity in the global financial services industry. The report was announced in the press release Financial services industry lagging in unleashing female leadership potential on June 13 2016.

Gender diversity on European boards. Realizing Europe's potential: progress and challenges
A European Women on Boards study carried out in partnership with Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). Tracks the progress women are making on the boards of some of the largest European listed companies and identifies trends at the company, country and sector level. Published in April 2016.

The rise of women in society: Enablers and inhibitors – A global study
Research conducted by Cambridge Judge Business School tracking trends across a 10-year period in Forbes 2000 List companies in 41 countries. The initial report, published in April 2015, examines the drivers of female representation in the boardroom.

Women in business: from classroom to boardroom
Report from Grant Thornton published in 2014 looking at the trends for women reaching senior management globally over the past 10 years. Asks what the UK can do to increase the numbers of senior-level women in business.

2013 Chief Executive Study
Strategy's annual Chief Executive Study examines CEO successions and success among the world’s top 2,500 public companies. The 2013 edition focuses particularly on women CEOs over the last 10 years.

Class ceilings
A 2013 report by Equal Approach on the backgrounds, including class, of those holding senior executive positions in the FTSE 100. Gender, age, marital status, route to the top and extra-curricular activities are also considered.

Mind the gender gap: Are boards rising to the diversity challenge?
Survey report produced by ICAEW and Warren Partners in July 2013 highlighting trends and opinion.

Women in finance: A springboard to corporate board positions?
This report, commissioned by ACCA and the Economic & Social Research Council and published by ACCA in December 2012, explores the role of a financial background or qualification on FTSE 100 board appointments for women.

Gender diversity on boards: The appointment process and the role of executive search firms
Research report commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and published by the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders in May 2012 and updated in May 2014. The report examines the board appointment process and the role of executive search firms within in with a particular emphasis on initiatives to make boards more gender balanced.

Consultation on gender imbalance in corporate boards in the EU
Access reference documents and replies to the EU consultation on initiatives to improve the gender balance on the boards of listed companies. The consultation closed in May 2012.

Progress report on women in economic decision-making in the EU
Report published by the European Commission in March 2012 which takes stock of developments in EU member states to improve the gender balance on company boards.

The business case for women's economic empowerment: an integrated framework
Study by the Oak Foundation, the International Center for Research on Women and Dalberg Global Development Advisors looking at corporate-funded women’s economic empowerment programs. Includes an integrated framework that the private sector can adopt to increase return on investment and enhance women’s economic advancement.

Breaking the glass ceiling: Women in the boardroom
A 2012 report published by Paul Hastings LLP. Through examining legislative, regulatory, and private sector developments and trends in 30 jurisdictions, it aims to provide a comprehensive, global survey of how different countries are addressing the issue of gender parity on corporate boards.

Report on board effectiveness: Highlighting best practice, encouraging progress (ABI)
In September 2011 the Association of British Insurers (ABI) published its report on board effectiveness as announced in the press release UK boardrooms given clear guidance on executive pay and effective performance. The report focuses on three key issues, with one being boardroom diversity, and aims to ‘help companies to better understand the views of institutional investors on effective boardroom performance’. The report includes the results of analysis of FTSE 350 Annual Reports to examine what companies are doing to improve diversity in their boardrooms and across their whole organisations.

Women in the City
Report published in April 2010 by the Treasury Select Committee following an inquiry into the representation of women at senior levels within large financial institutions in the UK. You can also access responses to the report from the UK Government and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Diversity in the boardroom: A guide for business and board-ready candidates in the UK
Short booklet published jointly by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the CBI in April 2010 highlighting some of the initiatives in the UK to improve boardroom diversity.

Breaking glass: strategies for tomorrow's leaders (CIMA)
This report, published by CIMA in 2010, ‘brings together advice and insights from senior female management accountants from across the world. It provides inspiration, encouragement and practical advice for future leaders – both male and female’.

Women matter
A collection of reports, guides and articles from McKinsey & Company looking at the business and economic case for gender diversity.

Research and statistics


The Female FTSE Index and Report
Annual benchmarking report published since 1999 by the Cranfield Global Centre for Gender and Leadership, part of the Cranfield University School of Management. Provides a regular measure of the number of women executive directors on the corporate boards of the UK's top 100 companies. Reports are available from 2001 onwards (excluding 2011 although research findings were published in October 2011 in Women on boards: Six months monitoring report which analysed the progress in improving UK boardroom diversity following the Davies Report.)

Women on Boards: A Life Sciences' Perspective (RSA)
A survey of senior executives in the UK Life Sciences industry commissioned by the RSA and published in 2012, which provides data on the gender imbalance in the boardrooms of UK Life Sciences companies and explores what might be done to improve the situation. The study also aims to find out whether the Life Sciences industry is a more favourable environment for women to progress to the most senior positions.

Increasing diversity on public and private sector boards
Archived version of research published by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) in 2009 on diversity on boards of directors in the public and private sector. Examines why are there so few women and other under-represented groups on boards and what is being done to increase diversity.

Other regions

Diversifying the outlook: The X&Y of biotechnology leadership
Survey report produced in 2015 by biotechnology recruitment agency Liftstream with case studies and recommendations for action.

Diversity drives diversity: From the boardroom to the C-suite
Research report from EY focussing on US companies, published in 2013, with data on board turnover, gender diversity by industry, women in executive positions, tenure and age of directors.

Women on boards: Commission proposes 40% objective
This collection of reports and factsheets including country specific information was published by the European Commission in November 2012 in support of its proposed legislation to establish a 40% quota for female board members in publicly listed companies.

Women in the boardroom: A global perspective
Third edition of the report by the Deloitte Global Centre for Corporate Governance, first published in January 2011 and last updated in May 2013, giving an overview of current initiatives around the world, both legal and regulatory, to increase the number of women serving on corporate boards.

Women on boards: Quick takes
Annual statistics on female board representation across the globe published by Catalyst.

Boardroom Diversity Index (Australia)
This annual survey, published by Women on Boards since 2010, is the 'first comprehensive publicly available data measuring female participation on the boards of organisations in Australia'.

Women on corporate boards: Lessons from the consumer sector
Survey carried out by the consumer sector recruitment firm Nigel Wright which is based on the opinions of 'over 100 senior executives from a range of consumer sector businesses in Europe on the issue of gender diversity on corporate boards'. The survey was carried out in June and July 2011.

Organisations and networks

The 30% Club
A group of chairmen and organisations committed to bringing more women onto UK corporate boards. The initiative aims to have at least 30% women on UK plc boards within five years.

European Professional Women's Network
Includes a Women on Boards section with articles, reports and a biannual Board Women Monitor.

Global Board Ready Women (GBRW)
In December 2012 the European Business Schools/Women on Board Initiative launched a searchable database of board ready women as reported in this press release by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). The database and a member forum are administered by the Financial Times Non-Executive Directors’ Club on LinkedIn.

The Mentoring Foundation
The foundation develops and manages the FTSE 100 Cross-Company Mentoring Programme, a mentoring programme for senior women executives who are matched with senior business leaders to develop and fulfil their potential.

OUT-standing in Business
Professional network for LGBT executives. The network publishes a Top 50 List of LGBT role models and leaders in business in conjunction with the Financial Times.

Professional Boards Forum
Programme bringing together leading chairmen and outstanding women board candidates for board opportunities. The Forum publishes regularly updated figures of female directors appointed to UK corporate boards.

Women for Boards
Scheme sponsored by MWM Consulting, BP and a number of senior business women aiming to increase the number of high-quality women on the boards of FTSE 250 and FTSE 350 companies through pairing potential candidates with mentors.

Articles and books in the Library collection

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans. You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post, fax or email through our document supply service.

Can't find what you are looking for?

If you're having trouble finding the information you need, ask the Library & Information Service. Contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, by web chat or by email at library@icaew.com.

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