UK Media Boards by age and gender: How representative are we?

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Jasper Jackson, TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, B2B Media, Consumer Media, Finance and Deals, Newspapers

UK Media Boards by age and gender: How representative are we?

If you want to rise to the top of a media company, you might ask yourself two questions: Is it ever going to happen, and how long would it take?

Gender - The glass ceiling

Well if you are a woman, the odds are, unsurprisingly, stacked against you. A snapshot of the management boards of 23 of the UK's top media companies shows that just 40 of the 218 directors - 18.8 percent - are women. 

Admittedly, that compares favorably with the the UK's top companies, whose lack of female representation is documented by the Cranfield University school of management's Female FTSE reports. Among the FTSE 100, just 15 percent of board members are women, and among the FTSE 250 that falls to a staggeringly low 9.4 percent.

However, the media industry is still a long way off the 40 percent female boards that the EU would like to see, or even the three in ten that organisations like the 30 percent club are calling for. Women make up slightly more than half the population of England and Wales according to the 2011 census.

Of course, some companies are less representative than others. The Daily Mail and General Trust has only one woman on its 16-strong board, equivalent to 6.25 percent of its directors. Considering DMGT's flagship title The Daily Mail has a readership and editorial focus skewed towards women there is a pretty big gap between the company's executive and the readers.

There are also another four media companies among the 23 with no women at all on the board though each of these have small boards when compared to the bulk of other companies on the list.

In contrast, seven of IPC Media's 13 board members are women. Pearson, one of the three of the 23 companies we looked at that make it into the FTSE 100, was ranked by Cranfield as the company with the third highest representation of women among the UK's top firms, with women occupying four out of 12 board seats.

The data we used actually featured two more Pearson directors than listed in Cranfield's report, leaving Pearson with a slightly less representative four women out of 14. However, Pearson is in any case is set to to lose its place near the top of the Cranfield rankings when CEO Marjorie Scardino is replaced by John Fallon - unless another woman is added to the board.

Of the other two FTSE 100 companies on our list, ITV comes in at number 48 on the Cranfield list, and BSkyB comes in at 83.

Age - A long wait till the top

Even if you aren't fighting against the tide as a woman in media, you might still have to resign yourself to waiting a while to reach the upper echelons of the media biz.

The average age of a board member across the companies we looked at was 53.9, though that is lower than the average age on the FTSE 100, which is 57.7.

There was some variation between genders - with those few women who do make it to the top, doing so younger than their male counterparts. The average age of a female board member was 51.5, compared to 54.4 for men. That difference is broadly in line with the three year gap in the ages of FTSE 100 board members  reported by Cranfield, which stand at 55.1 for women and 58.1 for men.

Again, there is a great deal of variation between publications...

...and again DMGT stood out, with an average board member age of 61.8, in part down to the inclusion of five directors over 70, including Tory grandee Lord Heseltine. The youngest member of DMGT's board is 44 year-old Jonathan Harmsworth, otherwise known as the Fourth Viscount Rothermere.

At the other end of the scale you have CBS Interactive, which between its two directors has an average board age of 41.5. The youngest of the 218 directors is 34 year-old Ashley Taboor, founder of Global Radio.

While we wouldn't pretend to call this analysis scientific, it does provide a snapshot of the demographics of the leaders of UK media companies. Those fighting their way to the top will come up against the male-dominated and comparatively senior culture.

It's also worth considering that the media is more constantly engaged with its customers than most other industries. It is strange then to see how unrepresentative the leaderships of those companies are of their audience, and the dearth of women on the boards of the UK's top media companies may go some way to explaining why representations of women in the press are so skewed.

Do you think you could improve this data?. If so please email me at Jasper.Jackson@briefingmedia.com

Download the data from Google docs here.

The companies we picked for this study were - Bauer Media, BSkyB, CBS Interactive, Centaur, The Daily Mail and General Trust, Future plc, Global Radio, Guardian Media Group, Haymarket Media Group, Hearst Magazines UK, Incisive, Informa, IPC Media, ITV PLC, Ni Group Ltd, Reed Business Information, Telegraph Media Group, The Conde Nast Publications Ltd, The Economist, Trader Media Group, Trinity Mirror, UBM and Which?.

The companies we looked at here were chosen because they are, in our opinion, just some of the most important companies in the UK media sector and the most-covered on TheMediaBriefing. In some cases we have left out some information, such as the ages of UBM's board members or whole companies, because the data was unavailable. Information on board makeup and the ages of their members, where available, was taken from corporate websites and company information aggregation site DueDil.

Image from flickr courtesy of manhattanloftcorporation

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