Retail sector performs better in gender diversity in senior roles, but their representation in Profit and Loss (P&L) roles is a matter of concern, said a report.

For the second year running, retail companies were in the top quartile on the three key measures analysed in the report Women Count 2018 prepared by The Pipeline, that tracks and analyses the number of women on Executive Committees of FTSE 350 companies.

Women constitute 22 percent of Executive Committees, have 15 percent representation as Executive Directors on the Boards, but only 8 percent are in P&L roles on the Executive Committees in retail sector, found the report.

In a sector that is predominantly P&L focused, without a robust pipeline of women with P&L experience, retail is unlikely to see strong growth and may lose their top spot, warned the report.

In general, Women Count 2018, third annual report from the Pipeline, found that there has been no progress on gender diversity in senior roles in the FTSE 350 in the last three years, and by some measures, it is going backwards.

The ratio of women on Executive Committees of FTSE 350 companies has stayed the same at only 16 percent since the first report three years ago.

95 percent of all P&L roles on Executive Committees are held by men and just 5 percent by women, a decrease on last year. Most women instead perform ‘functional’ roles such as HR, marketing, legal or compliance.

The percentage of women executives on main boards has flatlined at 8 percent between 2017 and 2018. This means 92 percent are still held by men.

Representation on Executive Committees, unlike representation on Boards, is the best measure of gender equality in the FTSE 350 because executives have power in the running of a company, the report noted.

Analysis from the report also showed the demonstrable economic benefits for companies who have women in more senior roles.

There is a £13 billion gender dividend on offer for UK plc, if all FTSE 350 companies performed at the same level as those with women on their executive committees.

FTSE 350 companies with no women on their executive committee only achieve an average 8.9 percent net profit margin. Where there are at least 25 percent women on executive committees, average net profit margins soar by 5 percent, to 13.9 percent.

Lorna Fitzsimons, Co-founder of The Pipeline said: “We are at a critical juncture for gender equality in the workplace and this report has issued a stark warning.

“This is an alarm bell for everyone who supports the Hampton-Alexander recommendation to Government to achieve 33% representation of women on FTSE 100 executive committees and their direct reports by 2020.”