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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: women on the board, plus more

Posted 3rd March 2023 • Written by •

UK firms smashed gender inclusivity targets

For the first time, the proportion of women in boardroom roles at listed British firms has risen above 40 per cent, a report published this week revealed.

FTSE 350 companies were set a 2025 deadline to achieve the 40 per cent target, which they hit three years early. Just over a decade ago, 152 of the 350 listed firms had no women on the board at all. 

Progress has not been even, however. Women currently only hold 33.5 per cent of leadership roles below board level.

“Reaching the 40 per cent target for women on boards early is cause for celebration,” the report said. “It also shows that more progress is possible. The powerful combination of clear goals and effective policy has enabled companies to demonstrate their commitment to positive change and reap the rewards of a diverse workforce.”

Sticking with female representation…

A record number of women launched a business in the UK last year, despite the gloomy economic outlook. 

Some 150,000 firms were created by female entrepreneurs in 2022, more than twice the number of 2018. Female-led companies now represent a fifth of all UK businesses, up from 16 per cent in 2018.

The figures are from the Rose Review 2023, an independent analysis of female entrepreneurship, led by the CEO of NatWest Group, Alison Rose. It suggests that the UK economy could benefit from a £250bn boost if women set up businesses at the same rate as men. 

“It’s a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurialism of female founders that they are creating more companies than ever before, and the Rose Review is expanding its support for their work,” said Rose.

“We will continue to provide fresh initiatives offering mentorship, guidance and inspiration for founders, alongside securing new commitments from financial services institutions to make it easier for female-led companies to access vital capital.”

The future looked even brighter for solar

It’s hard to believe now, but not so long ago the idea of using the sun to power your home seemed vaguely eccentric. Many dismissed solar as a serious energy provider. 

How things have changed. This week, a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast solar to be the world’s leading source of electricity by 2027. A decade ago it accounted for just 1 per cent of global electricity.

The report also suggested that, by 2027, renewable energy capacity would grow by 30 per cent more than was originally forecast by the IEA last year, due to the energy crisis. 

“The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the previous 20,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system.” 

Renewables appeared to slow emissions

The burning question is whether renewables are reining in emissions. Well, a separate report, also published by the IEA this week, offered answers. 

Its headline finding – that energy-related carbon emissions rose to record levels in 2022 – was disappointing. However, it suggested the sub-1 per cent rise was three times lower than expected due to the growth in green energy.

What’s more, the IEA said that Europe’s emissions fell by 2.5 per cent last year, thanks to the roll out of renewables and power saving measures to cut the use of Russian gas.

Coal and oil emissions globally were found to have risen, with aviation and sports utility vehicles driving oil demand. The IEA warned that rapid action was needed to be in with any chance of keeping warming to below 2C. 

The EU has pledged to cut emissions by 55 per cent (compared to 1990 levels) by the end of the decade. The US and UK have similar targets. 

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