British business has been “urged” to do more to meet the target of a third of women in senior leadership positions by 2020.
In a report published this week, the Department for Business said one in two appointments to boards of FTSE 350 firms “must be women if the target is to be met”.
The Hampton-Alexander Review’s 2018 report shows that the top 100 companies which make up the FTSE 100 are “on track” to hit the target with more than 30 per cent of board positions currently occupied by women.
This represents a significant rise from levels seen in 2011 when just 12.5 per cent of senior board positions were held by women.
But progress has not been as strong among FTSE 350 companies. Currently, almost one in four companies have only one woman on their board, and there remain five all-male boards.
This means, the report warns, that half of all appointments will have to be filled by women over the next two years to meet the targets set out in 2016.
The drive to appoint more women to senior positions follows research which found that bridging the gender pay gap could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025.
Across nearly all businesses in the UK, the Government is asking senior leaders to do more to create better, higher-paying jobs for people of all genders and backgrounds.
This included introducing new laws in April 2017, in which voluntary, public and private sector employers with 250 or more staff are required to publicise their gender pay gap data.
The Government is also currently working to increase workplace diversity by introducing a Race at Work Charter for businesses to increase ethnic minority representation in the workplace, as well as mandatory ethnicity pay reporting to help address disparities in the pay and progression of ethnic minority employees.
Commenting on today’s figures, CBI Chief UK Policy Director Matthew Fell said: “Female representation on FTSE boards has risen to record levels, but at times of great change things can all too easily slip backwards. The evidence is clear – diverse boards outperform their rivals. Action is required now to end all-male boards and pick up the pace of progress.
“With so much focus on the non-executive appointments of listed firms, it is essential companies concentrate on the day-to-day leaders of our biggest businesses. This data shows just how far we still have to go to ensure capable women can progress from entry-level to senior management positions.”