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Women on boards numbers almost doubled in last 4 years

Significant progress continues to be made with increased gender diversity in the boardrooms of the UK’s top companies.

Now almost a quarter of all FTSE 100 board positions are being filled by women.

The latest annual report from Lord Davies of Abersoch shows that 4 years on from his original report, commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable, female representation has almost doubled to 23.5%.

The Davies’ report, published each year alongside the Cranfield University School of Management’s Female FTSE Board report, shows British businesses are making great strides towards Lord Davies’s target of 25% by 2015, set in 2011.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

FTSE 100 boards have made enormous progress in the last 4 years, almost doubling female representation to just shy of 25%. We must celebrate this outstanding achievement and the change in culture that is taking hold at the heart of British business. 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 4 years, and if we continue this trend in the next parliament, I would expect to exceed a third of female representation by 2020. We know that’s where the tipping point lies in influencing decision-making. We must also focus on ensuring women are rising fast enough through the pipeline and taking up executive positions.

Companies must harness all available talent – diverse senior management pools are vital to securing the future corporate competitiveness of the UK.

Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said:

We have almost doubled women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards in 4 years; we only need 17 more women to be appointed to these boards and we will have met the 25% target we set ourselves. When we started this work in 2011 there were 21 FTSE 100 boards that had no women on them. Now there are no all-male boards left. This is great news.

But 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% 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.

Lord Davies of Abersoch said:

The rate of change that we have seen in FTSE 100 companies over the last 4 years has been remarkable. The voluntary approach is working, boards are getting fixed. We now have to increase the low number of Chairs and Executive Directors on boards and address the loss of talented, senior women from the executive pipeline.

I have never doubted that Britain has extraordinary talent, or that there are plenty of credible, experienced women, capable of serving on British boards.

FTSE companies are now making real efforts to seek out and unleash the full extent of this talent.

25% or better - WOB - March 2015 (PDF, 323KB, 1 page)

Top 10 most improved - WOB - March 2015 (PDF, 352KB, 1 page)

Notes to Editors

  1. A copy of Lord Davies’s latest (fourth) report into Women on Boards can be found at Women on boards reports
  2. In February 2011, Lord Davies of Abersoch published his first report into Women on Boards. The report set out a strategy aimed at ensuring that more women were appointed to boardroom positions. He asked all FTSE350 companies to set targets for the number of women they expected to have on their boards and executive committees in 2015. Lord Davies recommended that FTSE 100 boards should aim for a minimum 25% female representation on their boards by 2015.
  3. The Cranfield Female FTSE Board report was also published on Wednesday 25 March 2015. The Female FTSE benchmarking report provides an annual measure of the number of women executive directors on the corporate boards of the UK’s top 100 companies.
  4. As of March 2015 published statistics show that:
    • FTSE 100 - women’s representation on boards has increased to 23.5% - up from 20.7% in March 2014, and 12.5% in 2011
    • FTSE 250 - women’s representation on boards has increased to 18% - up from 15.6% in March 2014, and 7.8% in 2011
    • FTSE 100 - now has 263 women board members
    • FTSE 100 - 28.5% of Non-Executive Directors are women
    • FTSE 100 - 8.6% of Executive Directors are women
    • FTSE 250 - now has 365 women board members
    • FTSE 250 - 23% of Non-Executive Directors are women
    • FTSE 250 - 4.6% of Executive Directors are women
    • there are no all-male boards in the FTSE 100
    • there remain 23 all-male boards in the FTSE 250.
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