Women now hold more than a third of UK board positions

The number of women on the boards of the UK’s 350 largest companies has increased by 50% over the last five years, a new report reveals.

The final report from the Hampton-Alexander Review showed that more than a third (34.3%) of FTSE 350 board positions are now held by women. As of January 2021 there are 1,026 female directors – up from 682 in 2015.

Welcoming the report, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that the UK Government’s voluntary, business-led approach to increasing women’s boardroom representation had been “hugely successful” and should serve as a blueprint for other countries looking to make business more reflective of society.

While men still dominate in the upper ranks of the UK’s top firms, the authors of the report hailed the “remarkable progress” made in FTSE companies in recent years. There are no longer any all-male boards in the FTSE 350, and 220 of the 350 companies now meet the Hampton-Alexander target of having at least 33% of their board positions held by women.

What’s more, far fewer companies have a single woman on the board: the number of so-called ‘One & Done’ boards has fallen from 116 in 2015 to just 16.

The figures also show an increase in the number of women in wider senior leadership roles. However, significant progress remains to be made on the highest executive roles, such as CEO.

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