Woman in the driving seat at Rolls-Royce

Woman in the driving seat at Rolls-Royce

Anita Frew, the current chair of Croda plc, has been appointed as the next chair of FTSE 100 aerospace and defence specialists Rolls-Royce, making her the first female in the role of chair in the company’s 115-year history. Frew will assume the position in July and will succeed Sir Ian Davis who has served almost nine years as chair and was re-elected with 86.45% of votes in favour at this year’s AGM.

The announcement is a significant development in an industry widely known to be dominated by males. In its press release, Sir Kevin Smith, Senior Independent Director of Rolls-Royce welcomed Frew to the board, stating: ‘She brings a wealth of experience from two decades of Board appointments both in the UK and internationally and her skills, and reputation with investors and government institutions will be invaluable to the Group’.  

Earlier this year, gambling company Entain promoted female non-executive director, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, to the position of CEO after the former CEO, Shay Segev, departed abruptly in January 2021. These appointments add to a growing number of females in the highest leadership positions. The 30% Club, a global campaign advocating for gender balance and urging for at least 30% of female representation on all boards, reported that there were 12 female chairs on the FTSE 100, 33.3% of which were appointed between 1 Jan 2020 – 1 April 2021. The report also cites seven female CEOs and 18 female CFOs on the FTSE 100 as of 1 April 2021.

The Hampton-Alexander Review’s press release, published in February 2021, provided an update on its target for FTSE 350 companies to have 33% female representation on boards, highlighting that all FTSE 350 companies had met this target. The update confirmed that: ‘More than a third (34.3%) of FTSE 350 board positions are now held by women, with the number of women on boards increasing by 50% over the last five years…’ The press release also highlighted that FTSE 100 companies, Admiral Group Plc, Pennon Group Plc, Severn Trent Plc and FTSE 250 company Direct Line Insurance Group Plc have a female CEO and chair duo.

Female executive appointments, among other topics related to board diversity, will be further explored in our upcoming gender diversity trend report to be published later this year. 

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