Record number of women on boards of top UK firms

A record number of women are now sitting on the boards of the UK's leading companies, according to the latest data from an independent review body.

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Figures released on Monday by the Hampton-Alexander Review – an organisation commissioned by the government to increase the number of women at the top of British companies – suggest that, for the first time, a third of board positions in FTSE 250 companies could be held by women by next year.

A third of British board positions held by women 

The latest figures from the review show that, as of June 1, 32.1 per cent of FTSE 100 board positions were held by women, almost triple the representation only eight years ago. Among FTSE 250 firms, the figure last month stood at 27.5 per cent last month while, among FTSE 350 companies, it had reached 29.1 per cent.All-male boards in the FTSE 350 fell from five in November to four in June – a reduction from 152 in 2011.Sir Philip Hampton, who chairs the review body, said, "The FTSE 250 is working hard to catch up but still too many boards have only one woman and, remarkably, today there are four all-male boards in the FTSE 350."We are expecting to see good progress in the number of women appointed into senior leadership roles this year, with those companies having worked hard for several years exceeding the 33 per cent target and reaping the benefits."Business minister Kelly Tolhurst commented, "These latest figures show there are now more women than ever before at the top of UK business, and I want to see companies do all they can to increase the numbers further.

Diversity makes good business sense

"Diversity makes good business sense and those who fail to see this as a priority are missing out on the benefits that diverse leadership brings."The Hampton-Alexander review was set up by the government in 2016 in a bid to counter gender inequality and set targets for Britain's biggest companies – including having a third of women on their boards and leadership teams by 2020.Publication of the review coincided with the launch of a report by the Investment Association and Hampton-Alexander showing that 69 companies in the FTSE 350 had been contacted about their lack of female representation at a senior level.

Fourteen companies failed to respond

The report named 14 companies that had not responded to the warnings and still have only one woman or none on their boards.Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, said, "Investors want to invest in businesses that demonstrate they are diverse and inclusive because this leads to better decision-making and avoids group think."There has been good progress made, with 20 companies that we wrote to responding by appointing another woman to their board. This is a sign that many companies are getting the message, but there is still more work to do."It is especially disappointing that 14 companies are still falling so far short of shareholder expectations by having just a single woman on their board. Adopting this ‘one and done’ attitude is not good enough, and investors expect companies to up their game and explain clearly how they will set this right going forward."Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory