The number of women on the boards of the UK’s 350 largest listed companies has jumped by more than 50% since 2015, but women are still under-represented in leadership positions.
Women now occupy more than a third of the seats on the boards of the UK’s largest companies, reaching a government target set five years ago.
The number of women on the boards of the UK’s 350 largest listed companies has increased by more than 50% since 2015, meaning that 34.3% of all board seats are now held by women, an independent panel said in a report released Wednesday. . Women hold at least a third of the seats on the boards of 220 companies, up from 53 five years ago.
While companies have achieved the goal of board membership, women remain lagging behind in the competition for managerial positions, especially in small businesses. Women hold 26.5% of the seats on the executive committees of the 100 largest companies and only 21.7% of these seats in the small companies.
“Progress has been strongest with non-executive positions on boards of directors, but the coming years should see many more women in leadership positions,” said Philip Hampton, former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland who led the panel. “That’s what it takes to support the changes being made.”
The UK government has set the one-third target as part of an effort to encourage companies to voluntarily increase the number of women on their boards and in leadership positions. Other countries, including France, Norway, Sweden and Italy, have set legally binding quotas.
Women hold 43.8% of corporate board seats in France’s 40 largest publicly traded companies, the UK panel said. The corresponding figure for Norway is 39.5%, Sweden 37.3% and Italy 36.5%.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he hoped the UK’s voluntary approach would be an example for other countries.
“The UK government’s voluntary, business-led approach to increasing the representation of women on boards has been a huge success and will hopefully serve as a model for countries around the world seeking to make companies more representative of society, ”Kwarteng said in a statement.