In 2022, just 15% of board directors of companies that listed on the London Stock Exchange were women, according to analysis by bank and wealth manager Investec*. The research, which was conducted for International Women’s Day, reveals that some 45 companies newly listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2022, with a total of 209 board directors. Just 31 (15%) were women, compared with 178 men. Furthermore, 25 of the 31 women held non-executive roles.

However, that imbalance is set to improve. There are currently 12 high profile UK companies that have either confirmed they want to do an IPO or have been linked to one, and Investec’s analysis shows that, of their 97 board directors, 25 are women (26%)**.

The 12 companies are Starling Bank, whose CEO is Anne Boden MBE, Revolut, Dowlais, EG Group, Monzo, BrewDog, Jaguar Land Rover, Huel, Snowfox Group, McLaren Group, Zopa and Virgin Atlantic.

Even more progress has been made by Britain's 350 biggest listed companies. Women’s share of board seats at these firms reached 40% for the first time in 2022, according to a government-backed report.

Jonathan Arrowsmith, Head of Investment Banking at Investec, said: “Following a slowdown in 2022, we’re expecting an encouraging recovery in appetite for UK IPOs this year. It’s hugely positive to see that this will also be accompanied by improvements in gender diversity on the boards of those companies who are newly listing. New rules requiring listed companies to report on board diversity will have helped accelerate these improvements. At Investec, we have helped some of the UK’s best growth businesses come to market in the past decade and believe diversity of thought on boards is critical for those companies currently looking to IPO.”

Michelle White, who leads the Private Office for Investec, said: “The lack of gender diversity in UK PLC is well documented, and our analysis of companies that have recently listed on the LSE reveals this is still a major issue, with much work needed to address this.  Not only are there very few women in the UK’s major boardrooms, many of those women who are board directors hold non-exec roles.

“As a leading bank and wealth manager, we have seen huge growth in the number of our female clients, many of whom are successful business owners and we work with them to help provide equity, debt and advice to help them grow their businesses and protect the wealth that they are creating.  From our experience, PLCs would be wise to do more to tap into this huge pool of talent and provide equal opportunities for women to take on senior roles within their organisations.”

In 2022 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced new rules requiring listed companies to report on whether they are meeting targets on the representation of women and ethnic minorities on their boards and executive management.

The FCA’s targets are:

  • At least 40% of the board should be women.
  • At least one of the senior board positions (Chair, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Senior Independent Director (SID)) should be a woman.
  • At least one member of the board should be from an ethnic minority background excluding white ethnic groups.

Led by Bank CEO Ruth Leas, Investec’s Investment Banking team has brought some of the best businesses to the UK market over the past decade, including Fever-Tree, Blue Prism, FDM Group, Kainos, Gamma Communications and Midwich.

As a business, it is committed to diversity and has designed the composition of its Board to ensure that it has the appropriate mix of knowledge, skills, experience, independence and diversity.


* Investec analysis of London Stock Exchange 2022 IPOs
** Investec analysis of the Upcoming UK IPOs