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Rise in the number of women in FTSE 100 board positions

Written by: Emma Lunn
The UK has climbed to second place in the international rankings for women’s representation on boards at FTSE 100 level.

Data published by the government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review found that 39% of FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women, compared to just 12.5% a decade ago.

The government says the findings demonstrate “a major sea-change” in attitudes to getting women leaders to the top table of business in the UK.

Women’s board representation now stands at 39.1% in FTSE 100 companies, 36.8% in FTSE 250 firms, and 37.6% in the FTSE 350.

The number of women in chair roles across the FTSE 350 rose to 48, up from 39 in 2020. There has also been a significant decrease in the number of ‘One & Done’ boards to just six this 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 – and today’s findings highlight this with more women at the top table of Britain’s biggest companies than ever before.

“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.”

But while there has been progress at boardroom level, the report also shines a light on areas where there is still more to do. For example, only one in three leadership roles and around 25% of all executive committee roles are held by women and there are very few women in the CEO role.

Alison Owers, global CEO of Orient Capital, part of Link Group, said: “We have seen vast improvements in gender diversity for the top FTSE 350 listed companies in the UK, but these tend to dominate attention in the diversity debate and are not fully representative of UK corporate culture. There are more than a thousand smaller listed companies on the main market and AIM indices, which tend to be more domestically focussed and reflective of our modern society.

“Board composition does not go unnoticed. Institutional investors are using their votes to encourage diversity and inclusivity of women and other minority groups on boards. Diversity initiatives need to become a ‘business as usual’ agenda point for company reporting requirements. Minimum representation is not enough, and companies need to go beyond the 40% gender target if they are to make significant societal and business change.”

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