Number of women on boards reach "unprecedented" levels

Figures released today show diversity increase.

Photograph: Getty Images.

The number of women appointed to the boards of the UK’s top companies has reached unprecedented levels, official figures released today reveal.

A year on since the establishment of the voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms in response to the Davies report, Women on Boards, women now make up 16.7 per cent of FTSE 100 boards and 10.9 per cent of FTSE 250 boards. In 2010, the respective figures were 12.5 per cent and 7.8 per cent.

Since March this year, women have made up 44 per cent of newly appointed FTSE 100 board directors and 40 per cent of those in the FTSE 250.

The voluntary code sets out seven key principles of best practice for executive search firms to follow throughout the recruitment process. It includes a requirement for 30 per cent women long-lists and encourages firms to widen their traditional search avenues.

Since it was launched, 34 firms have signed up and they are now reporting that they have seen a culture shift among clients who are increasingly open to considering a wider range of women candidates.

“The progress we have seen in the past year proves that the UK’s business-led approach to achieving boardroom diversity is working,” business secretary Vince Cable commented.

“Diverse boards are better boards: benefiting from fresh perspectives, talent, new ideas and broader experience which enable businesses to reflect and respond better to the needs of their customers. This is good for women, good for companies which need to be the best they can be in order to compete in today’s tough global market place, and ultimately good for the UK economy as a whole.”

This story first appeared in economia.