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Wall Street appoints its first female bank boss: how many female CEOs are in the FTSE 100?

Wall Street appoints its first female bank boss: how many female CEOs are in the FTSE 100?
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In what is a first and a very big moment for Wall Street, Citigroup Inc., the United States’ third-largest banking institution, has announced that a woman, Jane Fraser, will be its next chief executive. With this appointment, Scotland-born Ms. Fraser joins a very small group of female CEOs at top companies in the US.

But what about here in the UK? Do we have any top companies being led by a woman? As it turns out, there are actually five FTSE 100 companies with female CEOs.

So, who are these women? Let’s find out.

Female CEOs in the FTSE 100

1. Alison Brittain – Whitbread

Brittain became Whitbread’s CEO in 2016. The 55-year-old previously worked at Lloyds Banking Group PLC  as Group Director for its Retail Division. She has also held several senior roles at Barclays PLC and Santander UK PLC.

As CEO, Brittain has overseen the sale of one of Whitbread’s major brands, Costa Limited, to Coca-Cola for £3.9 billion, a transaction that provided a much-needed cash injection into Whitbread.

2. Alison Rose – Royal Bank of Scotland

Rose worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for 27 years before her appointment as CEO of the company in 2019. She was the deputy CEO of Natwest Holdings and the CEO of Commercial and Private Banking business at the time of her appointment. 

Rose also previously served as the company’s Global Head of International Banking Capital and Balance Sheet, Head of Markets and International Banking, as well as Head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

She is the first ever female CEO of one of the UK’s big four banks – Barclays, Lloyds, RBS and HSBC.

3. Carolyn McCall – ITV

McCall became the broadcaster’s first female CEO in 2018. Though she was relatively new to TV at the time, she had previous experience in the media having joined The Guardian Media Group in 1986, where she eventually worked her way up to the position of CEO.

McCall also served as CEO of EasyJet from 2010 where, during her tenure, the airline’s share price almost quadrupled. For her services to women in business, she was awarded an OBE in 2008.

4. Emma Walmsley – GlaxoSmithKline

Walmsley succeeded Andrew Witty as the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2017. Previously, she was the CEO of GSK’s Consumer Healthcare Division.

Before joining GSK, she worked at L’Oréal, the French cosmetics giant, where, in a career spanning 17 years, she held a variety of marketing and general management positions in Europe, the USA and Asia.

Before her appointment as CEO, Walmsley had been a member of GSK’s executive team since 2011.

5. Liv Garfield – Severn Trent

Garfield joined Severn Trent in 2014 from Openreach (part of the BT group). As CEO, she has overseen the commercial roll out of fibre broadband to about two-thirds of the UK.

Garfield is not just the youngest female CEO of a FTSE 100 company but also one of the most successful, having overseen a 33.9% improvement in the company’s share price since taking over as leader.

Will we see more female FTSE 100 CEOs in the future?

As the number of women in FTSE 100 board and senior executive positions continues to grow, we might see even more female FTSE 100 CEOs in the near future. 

Back in 2016, for example, the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review set a target of 33% of all FTSE board-level positions being occupied by women by the end of 2020. FTSE 100 companies managed to achieve this target in February 2020, almost a year early.

A greater number of women in FTSE 100 board positions is likely to boost the pipeline of potential female senior executives as well as CEO candidates in the near future.

Final word

More women in top executive positions can only be good for UK companies and those currently invested or thinking of investing in them.

As many companies struggle to maintain their footing during this coronavirus pandemic, more diverse and gender inclusive leadership might be one of the keys to companies’ survival, better performance and improved results. 

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