United Kingdom


  • Service: Tax, Employment Issues, Advisory, Insights, P3
  • Type: Press release
  • Date: 10/12/2013

'Cracking the Code’ 

New research from YSC in collaboration with KPMG on a gender intelligent approach to developing male and female corporate leaders

December 10 2013, London - At a launch event held in London today, The 30% Club’s ‘Balancing the Pyramid’ Group, business psychology consultancy YSC, and professional services firm KPMG released the first stage of their new research aimed at understanding the gender profile of UK companies. The study has debunked some of the myths about how women progress to the very top and aims to give practical and constructive advice to companies on how to update their gender intelligence.

To date, a cross section of companies across the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 have been surveyed, totalling over 450,000 employees, both male and female. KPMG’s initial findings are encouraging and show that there is on average 21% female representation at surveyed FTSE 100 organisations at Executive Committee level, with 25% of organisations achieving 30% female representation. However, KPMG also found that a man starting his career with a large FTSE 100 UK company is still 4.5 times more likely to make it to the Executive Committee than his female counterpart.

While the full analysis and report will not be finished until early next year the initial findings from YSC suggest the need to update our expectations about the similarities and differences in the pattern of men’s and women’s careers. For instance:


  1. Overall, men and women are equally ambitious.  However, women’s ambition is a slow burn.  Women tend not to show the same level of ambition early but this exponentially lifts by the time they reach executive levels.  So companies need to consistently reassess career options for women, particularly when male peers are more overt about aspiring over a longer range.
  2. The rhythm of women’s careers appears to be different to their male counterparts. Women seem to make more lateral moves than men over the same time span with a mid-life career surge. This can result in senior female executives having broader experience than senior male executives with implications for their selection onto Boards.
  3. Although nearly twice as many women than men work under formal flexible working arrangements, women are sensitised to the promotion-limiting implications of such arrangements.  Where possible, women prefer individual autonomy to create a working pattern that accommodates the demands of their lives.  An intrinsically challenging role and the personal support of direct line management was found to be their preferred operating mode.
  4. Authenticity is key to women’s leadership.  By the time women reach executive committee level, they are far more comfortable being themselves as opposed to self-managing to meet gender expectations.  So diverse executive teams perform better when every leader can be themselves.
    The study also revealed a shift in how male and female leadership is currently valued within corporate environments.  The vast majority of positive leadership behaviour is viewed as identical in men and women.  Some stubborn pockets of stereotyping remain.  Women are more frequently described as providing values-based leadership, while men continue to be rated more frequently for their commercial acumen and logical-rational approach to problem-solving.


The study’s key takeaways for companies, while still in the early stages of findings, are constructive.  An environment for ‘leaning in’ is relatively low cost to create.  The quality of line-management proved a bigger boost to women’s commitment than formal development programmes, sponsoring, mentoring and executive coaching.  Women in the study were clear that transparency would be helpful for them to see when male and female executives at the top were balancing multiple priorities in their life, ie grappling with the same challenges as women lower down the pipeline.

Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller said: “This research provides a great insight into women’s experiences in the workplace. It goes without saying that men and women are different. The workplace was designed by men for men but times have changed and if we want women to be able to fulfil their potential – we need to modernise the workplace. The Government is playing its part but this is also about a culture shift and we need to support and encourage employers to put the right measures in place: nurture talent, create more inclusive workplaces, and drive greater transparency.”

Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO of Newton Investment Management and Founder of the 30% Club said: “Men and women are different - equally intelligent but we behave differently and are motivated by different things. This new research gives more depth to the intuitive argument that balanced teams perform better, and gives companies specific actionable ideas to improve their management of all talent – regardless of gender”.


For further information, please contact:

Gay Collins, MHP Communications +44 20 3128 8582 / 07798626282  
Toto Reissland-Burghart, MHP Communications  + 44 203 128 8100  
Jamie Brookes, BNY Mellon +44 20 7163 2146/07769900417                         


Notes to Editors


Influential Chairmen supporting the 30% Club initiative include:


Sir Brian Bender, London Metal Exchange Rich Laxer, GE Capital International 
Charles Berry, Drax Group Lord Leitch, Bupa
Sir Win Bischoff, Lloyds Banking Group John McFarlane, Aviva
Mark Bomer, BDO Charlie Mayfield, John Lewis
Donald Brydon, Royal Mail/Smiths Group/Sage Mike McTighe, Volex
Sir Roger Carr, Centrica Glen Moreno, Pearson
Stuart Chambers, Rexam David Morley, Allen & Overy
David Childs, Clifford Chance John Nelson, Hammerson
Michael Cole-Fontayn, BNY Mellon EMEA Dick Olver, BAE Systems
Simon Collins, KPMG Patrick O'Sullivan, Old Mutual
Allan Cook, Atkins Alan Parker, Brunswick
David Cruickshank, Deloitte Sir John Parker, Anglo American
Miranda Curtis, Waterstone's Sir John Pearce, Burberry Group/Standard Chartered
Andrew Duff, Severn Trent Ian Powell, PwC
Ian Durrant, Capital & Counties Properties Sir Michael Rake, British Telecommunications plc
Neville Eisenberg, Berwin Leighton Paisner Sir Simon Robertson, formerly Rolls Royce
Robert Elliott, Linklaters Bardon David de Rothschild, Rothschild
Douglas Ferrans, Invista and IMA William Rucker, Lazard
Douglas Flint, HSBC Sir Nigel Rudd, BAA/Invensys
Anita Frew, Victrex Chris Saul, Slaughter and May
Charlie Geffen, Ashurst Jonathan Scott, Herbert Smith Freehills
Sir Peter Gershon, National Grid/Tate&Lyle Peter Scott, Engine Group
Sir Ian Gibson, Morrisons John Stewart, Legal & General
Richard Gnodde, Goldman Sachs Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint Robert Swannell, Marks & Spencer
John Griffith-Jones, Financial Conduct Authority Alexander Y. Thomas, Reed Smith
Sir Philip Hampton, Royal Bank of Scotland Martin Thomas, Lancashire Holdings
David Harris, Hogan Lovells Michael Treschow, Unilever
John Heaps, Eversheds David Tyler, Sainsbury's
Peter Hickson, Chemring Steve Varley, Ernst & Young
Andrew Higginson, Poundland Sir David Walker, Barclays
Tony Hobson, Sage Bob Wigley, Hibu
Christine Hodgson, CapGemini  
Dr Franz Humer, Diageo  
Lady Judge, Pension Protection Fund  
Will Lawes, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer  

The 30% Club initiative was founded by Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO, Newton Investment Management, and is led by her and a group of senior businesswomen including:


Gaenor Bagley, PwC Sally Martin, Shell
Tamara Box, Reed Smith Heather McGregor, Taylor Bennett
Diana Brightmore-Armour, ANZ Helena Morrissey, Newton
Lisa Bryant, Lloyds Banking Group Melanie Richards, KPMG
Caroline Carr, Goldman Sachs Henrietta Royle, Fanshawe Haldin
Gay Collins, MHP Communications Joanna Santinon, E&Y
Pavita Cooper, Independent Board Advisor Jane Scott, Professional Boards Forum
Niamh Corbett, Morgan Stanley Emily Lawson, Wm Morrison
Katushka Giltsoff, The Miles Partnership Claire Tracey, The Boston Consulting Group
Mary Goudie, Labour Peer Brenda Trenowden, BNY Mellon
Vimi Grewal-Carr, Deloitte Sian Westerman, Rothschild
Emma Howard Boyde, Jupiter Sarah Wiggins, Linklaters
Claudia Kohler, Newton  

About YSC
We are a global firm of business psychologists helping organisations achieve commercial success by releasing the power of their people. We do this by combining industry leading psychological insight with a thorough understanding of our clients’ business needs. We work with clients across their entire talent lifecycles, including: recruitment, induction, development, the identification of potential, internal selection, role change, measurement and departure. Our key client offerings include 1:1 and team assessment, executive coaching, organisational consulting and the measurement of change.


Editors, for further information contact: Rachel Short
Tel: 020 7520 5555, email: rachel.short@ysc.com

Please note: complete biographical details, high resolution pictures of Rachel Short and YSC logos are attached with this press release. Alternatively, please contact marketing@ysc.com 



About KPMG
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with over 12,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2012. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 156 countries and have 152,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  KPMG International provides no client services.


If you would like to discuss our research in more detail then please call David Fairs (david.fairs@kpmg.co.uk) on 020 7311 3103 or Melanie Richards (melanie.richards@kpmg.co.uk) on 020 7694 6482. You can also find further detail and background on our website: www.kpmg.com/uk/P3


If you would like to participate in this research please contact Ingrid Waterfield on 0207 694 8027 or email ingrid.waterfield@kpmg.co.uk




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