Almost a quarter of FTSE 100 board positions are now being filled by women, the latest annual report from Lord Davies of Abersoch has shown.
Female representation has now reached 23.5 per cent, almost double the level it was four years ago.
The review was first commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable in 2011, when just 12.5 per cent of FTSE 100 board positions were held by women.
At the time, Lord Davies recommended that FTSE 100 boards should aim for a minimum 25 per cent female representation by 2015.
As this latest report shows, that target has not yet been met.
The government says is confident that figure can be reached by the end of this year, as only another 17 women would need to be appointed.
But that number falls short of the 30 per cent by the end of 2015 demanded by Helena Morrissey’s campaigning organisation, the 30 Per Cent Club.
There are no all-male boards in the FTSE 100, but the latest figures from the Cranfield School of Management show that 23 remain in the FTSE 250. The figures include both executive and non-executive directors.
While, five women currently hold the position of CEO in FTSE 100 firms.
Lord Davies praised the ‘remarkable’ rate of change over the last four years and the ‘credible, experienced women, capable of serving on British boards’.
In response to the report, Vince Cable said: “The evidence is irrefutable: boards with a healthy female representation outperform their male-dominated rivals. I am confident we will reach our target this year, but our work is not complete. British business must keep its eye on the long game, as we strive to achieve gender parity. We have made good progress in the last four years, and if we continue this trend in the next parliament, I would expect to exceed a third of female representation by 2020.
Lord Davies said that the next challenge was to “increase the low number of Chairs and Executive Directors on boards and address the loss of talented, senior women from the executive pipeline.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan urged: “To keep on track we also need to ensure that women are well represented at senior executive level too, making them ready to take up board level positions. In the FTSE 100, the total number of female senior executives has increased from 19.9 to 21 per cent which is to be welcomed, but we need to keep up the pressure to see this increase still further.
“This is not only good for women, but good for business too. Boards which reflect their customers and clients are better able to understand their needs and respond to them.”
By Claire Cohen