Women now hold over a third of roles within the boardrooms of FTSE 350 companies, showing signs that the workplace landscape is slowly diversifying. 

The FTSE 350 now contains no all-male boardrooms, according to a new review by the Government.

In addition to this, the research found that over a third (34.3 per cent) of FTSE 350 board positions are now held by women.

This information comes after the Hampton-Alexander Review was launched in 2016 in order to encourage UK-listed companies to appoint more women to their boards and into senior leadership positions.

Over the last five years, the number of women on FTSE 350 boards has increased from 682 to 1026, illustrating that greater strides towards diversifying the top UK companies are being made.

In total, 220 of the FTSE 350 met the target set of having a third of their board positions held by women.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary, said:

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.

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 this, there have been suggestions for ways to improve and continue the progress made. In particular, the review concluded that more progression needs to be made on the highest executive roles such as Chief Executive Officers. The Review has pledged to create a plan to push businesses to take action in this arena.

Ann Cairns, executive vice-chair of Mastercard and global chair of the 30 per cent Club, advocating for at least 30 per cent female representation on boards, said:

There are only 17 female CEOs across all 350 companies. Against the backdrop of Covid-19 and its disproportionate impact on women, it’s vitally important for companies to invest in their pipeline of female managers and leaders. Diversity is good for business and it’s key to building back better.

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President EMEA, Skillsoft, echoed these sentiments:

It’s great to see these latest findings from Hampton-Alexander Review, which represents a dramatic shift in representation at the very highest levels of British business.

However, despite the number of women in leadership positions on the increase, the report found that men still dominate in the upper ranks of the UK’s top firms. Creating diverse leadership teams should be a top priority for all organisations, which need to build up their pipelines of female talent to realise the full potential of their female workforce. Today’s businesses must provide all employees – regardless of gender – with well-defined development opportunities to help them grow professionally and advance their careers towards higher-paying positions.

Indeed, many women across organisations – from the board to roles in IT – are still victims of the gender pay gap. We’re now in 2021, women should be equally paid and for this to be addressed, more organisations need to be transparent about their salary bandings and who is being paid what. Resolving the disparity in pay is complex and involves more than merely a number. Above all, it’s about making a continued, concerted effort; meaningful change cannot occur overnight.