Super-rich white male picked to lead gender equality review

Sir Philip Hampton was appointed to the post. © Olivia Harris
The UK government's decision to appoint the super-rich white male chairman of a global pharmaceutical company to head a review of women in corporate boardrooms is being mocked online and described as “beyond ironic.”

Sir Philip Hampton of GlaxoSmithKline was announced Sunday by the Ministry for “Women and Equalities” to lead their effort to increase the number of female executives at Britain's 350 biggest companies.

Dame Helen Alexander, chair of media multinational UBM, was appointed his deputy.

“It is beyond ironic that a man has been appointed into this role, which simply reinforces the idea that senior leadership is men’s work,” leader of the Women’s Equality Party Sophie Walker told the DailyMail. “Evidence shows that companies thrive when their leadership is diverse, so getting more women onto boards – currently only five female CEOs run FTSE 100 firms – is critical."

Walker’s claims are backed up by the publication of a new study by The Peterson Institute for International Economics and Ernst & Young released Monday which shows increased presence of women in leadership roles can increase profitability.

It found that businesses comprising 30 percent female leaders could add six percentage points to its net margin when compared to businesses without female leaders.

In Britain, fewer than 10 percent of executive directors at FTSE 100 companies are women.

Hampton’s appointment was also criticized online with users expressing confusion over the mixed message being sent by the UK government.

Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan defended the decision to appoint Hampton saying, “Men have a critical role to play in this and I look forward to working with Sir Philip and his team on this incredibly important agenda.”

The current percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards is 26.1 percent and 19.6 percent in FTSE 250.

The review will aim to meet Lord Mervyn Davies’ call for women to make up at least a third of board directors by 2030.