Number of women on FTSE boards rise by 50% in 5 years, says report

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Number of women on FTSE 350 boards has risen from 682 to 1026 in five years, according to a final report from the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review.

The Review was launched in 2016 to encourage UK-listed companies to appoint more women to their boards and into senior leadership positions.

Hampton-Alexander Review Chair, Sir Philip Hampton, commented on the report: “There’s been excellent progress for women leaders in business over the last 10 years or more, with boards and shareholders determined to see change.

“The progress has been strongest with non-executive positions on boards, but the coming years should see many more women taking top executive roles. That’s what is needed to sustain the changes made.”

While men still dominate in the upper ranks of the UK’s top firms, in five years the Review has seen ‘remarkable progress’ among FTSE companies.

In total, 220 of the FTSE 350 companies now meet the Hampton-Alexander target of having at least 33% of their board positions held by women, with the figure reportedly quadrupled from just 53 in 2015, and there are no longer any all-male boards in the FTSE 350.

The FTSE 250 reached the Hampton-Alexander Review’s final target of women making up 33% of boards in December 2020, following the FTSE 100 and FTSE 350, which achieved the milestone in February and September 2020 respectively.

The number of ‘One & Done’ boards, with only one woman, has fallen from 116 in 2015 to just 16.

The scope of the Review covered over 23,000 leadership roles in Britain’s largest listed companies, covering the board and two leadership layers below the board.

FTSE companies are reported to have continued to improve women’s membership of boards since Hampton-Alexander figures were last made public in September, despite the impact of coronavirus, which some research suggests has hit women’s employment particularly hard.

While women make up more than a third of those in senior leadership positions, the Review found that ‘significant progress’ remains to be made on the highest executive roles, such as CEO, and the Review will reflect on these findings to chart a way forward.

Hampton-Alexander Review CEO, Denise Wilson, added: “The lack of women in the boardroom is where it all started a decade ago, and it’s the area where we have seen the greatest progress. But now, we need to achieve the same – if not more – gains for women in leadership.

“The supply of capable, experienced women is full to over-flowing. It is now for business to fully utilise a talent pool of educated, experienced women, to their own benefit and that of the UK economy.”

The full final report is available to download on the Hampton-Alexander Review website.