Almost a quarter (23.5%) of all FTSE 100 board positions are now being filled by women, the latest annual report from Lord Davies of Abersoch revealed today (Wednesday).

The Davies report shows that four years since it was commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable, female representation in executive positions has almost doubled and is close to the target of 25 percent, set by Lord Davies in 2011.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“FTSE 100 boards have made enormous progress in the last four years, almost doubling female representation to just shy of 25 percent. We must celebrate this outstanding achievement and the change in culture that is taking hold at the heart of British business. The evidence is irrefutable: boards with a healthy female representation outperform their male-dominated rivals.

“I am confident we will reach our target this year, but our work is not complete. British business must keep its eye on the long game, as we strive to achieve gender parity. We have made good progress in the last four years, and if we continue this trend in the next parliament, I would expect to exceed a third of female representation by 2020. We know that’s where the tipping point lies in influencing decision-making. We must also focus on ensuring women are rising fast enough through the pipeline and taking up executive positions.

“Companies must harness all available talent – diverse senior management pools are vital to securing the future corporate competitiveness of the UK.”

Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said:

“We only need 17 more women to be appointed to these boards and we will have met the 25 percent target we set ourselves. When we started this work in 2011 there were 21 FTSE 100 boards that had no women on them. Now there are no all-male boards left. This is great news.

“But to keep on track we also need to ensure that women are well represented at senior executive level too, making them ready to take up board level positions. In the FTSE 100, the total number of female senior executives has increased from 19.9 to 21 percent, which is to be welcomed, but we need to keep up the pressure to see this increase still further.”

Lord Davies of Abersoch said:

“The rate of change that we have seen in FTSE 100 companies over the last four years has been remarkable. The voluntary approach is working, boards are getting fixed. We now have to increase the low number of Chairs and Executive Directors on boards and address the loss of talented, senior women from the executive pipeline.”

The Davies’ report is published each year alongside the Cranfield University School of Management’s Female FTSE Board report.