From Accenture to Yorkshire Water: the top 50 employers for gender diversity

50 of the UK's most inclusive businesses have been recognised for their leadership on workplace gender equality in a dedicated league table.

While most large organisation wax lyrical about the importance of diversity and inclusion for company culture as well as the bottom line, how much of it is real and how much rhetoric?

Non-executive director evangelist and author of The Independent Director, Gerry Brown believes that despite positive words and some change over recent years, too many executive boards are still primarily male mono-cultures. “Diversity at board level – whether it’s thought of in terms of age, gender, religion, culture or race – often boosts revenues and grows the bottom line. It is proven to discourage group think, encourage inclusion and greater staff satisfaction, ameliorate change as well as deliver better, more independent thinking and strategic independence,” he says.

“Though change can’t be accomplished overnight, I’ve long advocated diverse non-executive director appointments to efficiently and quickly effect positive immediate change at board level. Such appointments go in tandem with more gradual but required step changes of chairmen and senior executives. Until diversity is fitted as standard, it is far from being achieved let alone over.”

For businesses that actively advocate change, internal mentorships schemes, leadership seminars and technology to counter human biases have been key.

“The traditional methods of advancing women aren’t moving the needle, and under-representation of women around the world has become an economic and social travesty,” says Pat Milligan, global leader of Mercer’s research initiative, When Women Thrive.

The most recent report is from 2016, so while the figures may have changed, the general trends remain the same. “While leaders have been focusing on women at the top, they’re largely ignoring the female talent pipelines so critical to maintaining progress. This is a call-to-action — every organisation has a choice to stay with the status quo or drive their growth, communities and economies through the power of women,” Milligan adds.

Mercer’s report finds that although women are 1.5 times more likely than men to be hired at the executive level, they are also leaving organisations from the highest rank at 1.3 times the rate of men, undermining gains at the top.

“In 10 years, organisations won’t even be close to gender equality in most regions of the world,” Milligan adds. “If CEOs want to drive their growth tomorrow through diversity, they need to take action today.”

According to the report, women make up 40 per cent of the average company’s workforce. Globally, they represent 33 per cent of managers, 26 per cent of senior managers, and 20 per cent of executives.

Clearly, band-aid programmes can no longer cut it. Apart from focussing on the complete talent pipeline, from the point of hiring talent to ensuring their growth and success within the company, companies need to keep pace with supporting practices and cultural change critical to ensure that women will be successful in their organisations.

Armstrong Craven CEO Matthew Mellor says corporates can no longer afford to pay “lip service” to the diversity question. “All the evidence is telling us that the organisations which embrace diversity and make it an ingrained part of their culture are most likely to attract and keep the best talent which, in turn, enables them to achieve above-average financial returns. We are increasingly being asked by clients globally to help them put in place more diverse and inclusive recruitment strategies. It has become business critical,” he says.

While working with a global financial services client in the Asia Pacific, Amstrong Craven realised that the organisation was struggling to attract and retain female leaders in corporate roles. The firm engaged with over 200 senior female professionals in the region to understand their career drivers and the challenges they faced. They also captured views on the client as a brand and a prospective employer.

“The result was a powerful evidence-based research report that informed our client about how it could become a more attractive employer to the targeted cohort. The organisation responded by implementing a number of changes to its employee proposition to improve its prospects of engaging with and attracting the best talent. We created a pipeline of 35 senior females across the region. Placements are already being made and regular networking is enabling our client to manage this talent pool directly. All data is our client’s intellectual property and our work has dramatically reduced the cost and time to hire, providing an immediate and longer-term return on investment,” Mellor adds.

“Diversity is not something you can pay lip service to. It is not about tackling issues like gender or race or age or sexual orientation in isolation. It is about developing robust policies and practices and embedding them into the way a corporate does business across all of its territories. It should go much further than quotas. Dynamic diversity is about ensuring your Board or senior leadership team includes people from varied sectors and backgrounds. We know from our work how transformational it can be for those who get it right.”

Fifty of the UK’s most inclusive businesses have been recognised for their leadership on workplace gender equality in a dedicated league table.

The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2017, published in partnership with Business in the Community, the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, is an alphabetical and unranked list of the organisations in the UK that currently hold gender equality as a key part of their business strategy.

The full list of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women includes:



Accenture Professional Services
Addleshaw Goddard Legal
Ashurst LLP Legal
BAE Systems Engineering
Barclays Financial Services
BNY Mellon Financial Services
British Army Military
BT Telecommunications
CapGemini Professional Services
Carillion PLC Support Services
Citi Financial Services
CMS Legal
Deloitte LLP Professional Services
Department for Transport Public Sector
DHL Supply Chain Logistics
EDF Energy Energy
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Automotive
Eversheds Sutherland LLP Legal
EY Professional Services
Goldman Sachs International Financial Services
Greater London Authority Public Sector
Herbert Smith Freehills  LLP Legal
Hogan Lovells International  LLP Legal
Home Office Public Sector
HSBC Financial Services
J.P. Morgan Financial Services
KPMG Professional Services
Linklaters LLP Legal
Lloyds Banking Group Financial Services
Marks & Spencer Retail
McKinsey & Company Consulting
Mercer Consulting
MI5 Public Sector
Morgan Stanley Financial Services
Norton Rose Fulbright Legal
Ofcom Public Sector
PepsiCo UK and Ireland Consumer Goods
Pinsent Masons LLP Legal
Post Office Retail
PwC Professional Services
RBS Financial Services
Royal Mail Group Postal Services
Shell UK Oil & Gas
Sky Entertainment & Telecommunications
Sodexo UK & Ireland Facilities Management
Southbank Centre Arts
State Street Financial Services
Unilever Consumer Goods
Vodafone Telecommunications
Yorkshire Water Utilities

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.