Women's presence in boardrooms on the rise

Women's presence in boardrooms on the rise

Nearly 40 per cent of all FTSE 100 board positions are held by women, the latest FTSE Women Leaders Review has stated. 

The Review, which monitors women’s representation in 24,000 positions on FTSE 350 boards and in leadership teams of the UK’s biggest companies, has charted progress made in 2021.

Women’s board representation has risen in 2021 across the FTSE 100 (39.1 per cent), FTSE 250 (36.8 per cent) and FTSE 350 (37.6 per cent) - a significant improvement compared with 20 years ago, when it was virtually nil.

This means the UK has climbed to second in the international rankings for women’s representation on boards at FTSE 100 level, up from fifth a year ago.

Now, nearly 40 per cent of UK FTSE 100 board positions now held by women, compared with 12.5 per cent just 10 years ago.

The number of women in chairperson roles across the FTSE 350 has also risen to 48, up from 39 in 2020, and there has been a significant decrease in the number of ‘One & Done’ boards - where a token woman appointment has been made - to just six this year.

UK businesses have also continued to drive progress in their leadership teams in 2021, despite challenges faced in responding to Covid-19.

There are over 700 more women in leadership roles in the FTSE 350 companies this year, increasing women’s representation to 31.5 per cent, an increase of two percentage points year-on-year.

Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, said: "UK businesses have made enormous progress in recent years to ensure that everyone, whatever their background, can succeed on merit.

"However, we should not rest on our laurels, and the FTSE Women Leaders Review will build on the success so far of our voluntary, business-led approach to increasing women’s representation on boards and in leadership, without the need for mandatory quotas."

Denise Wilson, chief executive of the FTSE Women Leaders Review, announced a set of new recommendations for the next stage, which she said would help "embed the progress and hard-won gains of the last decade and take businesses further on the journey to gender balance in the boardroom and in leadership".

The recommendations include: 

  • The voluntary target for FTSE 350 boards & for leadership teams is increased to a minimum of 40 per cent women’s representation by the end of 2025.
  • FTSE 350 companies to have at least one woman in the chairperson, senior independent director role on the board and/or one woman in the chief executive or finance director role by the end of 2025.
  • Extending the scope of the FTSE Women Leaders Review beyond FTSE 350 companies to include the largest 50 private companies in the UK by sales.

Wilson added: “We know there is much more work to do and no shortage of experienced, capable women, ambitious for themselves and their company across all sectors of business today.

"So while we continue to build on progress for women on boards, we need to firmly shift focus in this next phase to women in leadership roles at the top of the organisation.”

KPMG and Lloyds Banking Group have also been announced as the corporate sponsors for FTSE Women Leaders Review in this next phase, providing important support to increase the number of women at the top of British business.

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