The FTSE 100 is on track to meet a target of 33 per cent for women on boards by 2020, a government-backed report published today showed.
However, a “step change” is still needed to boost the number of women in senior leadership roles at FTSE 350 companies, the Hampton-Alexander Review report said.
Unless half of all available roles go to women this year, the FTSE 350 will not achieve the target for women in leadership positions by the end of 2020.
Women now hold 32.4 per cent of all FTSE 100 board positions, up from 30.2 per cent last year and up from only 12.5 per cent in 2011.
The FTSE 100 is likely to meet its 33 per cent target for women on boards by 2020, while the report showed that women hold 29.6 per cent of all FTSE 250 board positions, up from 24.9 per cent last year and only 7.8 per cent in 2011.
If the same rate of progress continues next year, the FTSE 350 will be on track to meet the 33 per cent target by the end of 2020 deadline, the report said.
Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the review, said: “Whilst this is a key indicator of change at the top, strengthening the number of women in executive positions is critical to achieving long-term gender balance.
“We are still a long way from reaching the target for women in senior leadership roles below board level. Unless half of all appointments made this year go to women – our target for 2020 is not going to be met.”
Women’s representation in the senior leadership of FTSE 100 companies has increased this year to 28.6 per cent, up from 27 per cent in 2018
The FTSE 250 has seen a stronger increase with women’s representation increasing this year to 27.9 per cent, up from 24.9 per cent in 2018.
Around 175 companies are still well adrift from the 33 per cent target and there are still 44 companies with all-male executive committees.
Chief executive of the review Denise Wilson said: “There are over 900 women now serving on FTSE 350 boards, providing an ever-increasing pool of women with substantial board experience, yet only 25 women have been appointed into the chair role, even fewer as women CEOs.”
Lorna Fitzsimons, co-founder of diversity consultancy group The Pipeline, called for the next government to set targets for the number of women on executive committees (excos).
“Based on current rates of progress, it will take until 2090 before we are able to achieve gender parity on excos. This means that businesses are not going to achieve the targets that the government set for them within the one year they have left.
“Whoever wins the next general election has to set hard targets for the number of women on executive committees alone. If we just focus on this one target we would effect more lasting change which would positively benefit boards, as well as the future pipeline.”