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Record number of women occupy senior leadership positions, independent review reveals

A record number of women now hold board level positions in top British companies, a major study has revealed.

The research, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), comes after the publication of the independent Hampton-Alexander Review.

Launched in 2016, the review found that men dominated FTSE 350 board positions, with women accounting for just 21.9 per cent of all roles, while 15 boards featured no women at all.

But the latest analysis shows that over a third (34.3 per cent) of all positions are now occupied by women – representing a 50 per cent increase, and there are no longer any boards solely occupied by men.

The number of boards with just one woman also fell from 116 to 16, while the total number of companies with boards consisting of a third or more women rose from 53 to 220.

Similar targets were also achieved across the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 in February 2020 and December 2020, respectively.

Commenting on the research, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the figures represent a “dramatic shift in representation at the very highest levels of British business”.

“FTSE companies have made incredible progress in recent years, but we cannot become complacent in building a society where everyone has an opportunity to get on and succeed,” he said.

“As we look to build back better from the pandemic, it’s important businesses keep challenging themselves to use all the talents of our workforce and open up the top ranks for more, highly-accomplished women.”

Despite major steps forward, the final Hampton-Alexander report notes that “significant progress remains to be made” among the highest executive level roles, such as chief executive officer (CEO).

According to the report, the number of women in these roles increased from 24.5 per cent in 2017 to just 29.4 per cent in 2020.

“There’s been excellent progress for women leaders in business over the last 10 years or more, with boards and shareholders determined to see change. The progress has been strongest with non-executive positions on boards, but the coming years should see many more women taking top executive roles. That’s what is needed to sustain the changes made,” said Sir Philip Hampton.

Click here to access the full report.

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