Record Number Of Female Billionaires Named Among Wealthiest People In Britain
The number of female billionaires in the UK has reached a record high, with 25 making it onto this year’s Sunday Times Rich List.
Of those who made the exclusive list, Kirsten Rausing – of the Swedish family behind TetraPak – topped it with her £12.1 billion fortune, closely followed by her aunt Marit Rausing, the UK’s third-richest woman with a net worth of £9.6bn.
Businesswoman Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, who owns a 25% stake in brewing giant Heineken, is Britain’s second-richest woman with an estimated £10.3 billion to her name.
Denise Coates, the founder and CEO of online gambling company Bet365, climbed to fifth place after paying herself a record £323 million in December last year. She now has nearly £7.2 billion to her name, up £310 million on last year.
Just £500 million behind Coates is Hollywood actor Salma Hayek, who makes the list along with her husband François-Henri Pinault. As the CEO of Kering, Pinault oversees luxury brands such as Gucci, with the couple sharing a £6.6 billion fortune.
One of the UK’s newest billionaires is Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter Rupert Murdoch, who increased her wealth by more than £1 billion in the past year to £1.2 billion.
This increase in wealth comes after Rupert’s six children split $12 billion in cash and shares between them last year, as a result of the sale of his 21st Century Fox business to Disney.
The list is based on identifiable wealth including land, property, other assets such as art, and shares in companies. It does not include the amount contained in people’s bank accounts.
While 25 is certainly a record number of female billionaires for the list – which is described as the ‘definitive guide to wealth of the UK’s richest 1,000 people’ – it pales in comparison to the number of male billionaires in the UK, and the gender pay gap is still evident.
Even at this year’s high, women account for just 150 of the country’s wealthiest – out of 1,000 – and only 96 qualify as ‘self-made’. Marriage or inheritance accounts for the fortunes of the other 54.
Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society – which campaigns for equal pay – told The Times:
It’s a consequence of a lifetime of inequality for women. You have to look at the whole working lives of women and men – why and how men end up dominating senior roles and better-paid positions and acquire far more wealth through their lives than women.
It’s good that we’ve had a better result for women in the Rich List this year than last. As with the gender pay gap, things have improved in very small, incremental steps over the last 10 to 20 years, but we are decades away from equality, and that would be the same in this case, I’m sure.
Some people argue that we shouldn’t care about rich women, we should only care about low-paid women. And I would say yes, obviously low-paid women are an important focus for our work, but if women don’t have an opportunity to acquire wealth through their lives then they never achieve financial independence.
Smethers ended by asking why women ‘shouldn’t have an opportunity to be as rich as men’, and to be frank, I don’t know the answer to that.
Hopefully next year we’ll see an even bigger number of women on the list.
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