The findings have been revealed thanks to the Hampton-Alexander review, which aims to encourage UK companies to appoint more women into senior roles.
New figures released today reveal that women now make up more than a third of UK top jobs.
In the last five years, the number of women on boards at the UK’s 350 largest firms has risen by 50%. From 2016 to 2021, it’s jumped from 682 to 1,026 individuals.
The stats were released as part of the Hampton-Alexander review, which was launched five years ago. Backed by the government, its aim has always been to encourage UK companies to appoint more women into senior roles.
Kelly Becker, who runs engineering firm Schneider Electric‘s UK and Ireland operations, spoke to the BBC about the findings. She said that it indicates “a dramatic shift in representation at the very highest levels of British business”.
She also commended the amount of work done to ensure women were offered the right opportunities.
“It takes really careful thinking and planning to drive diversity into organisations. Not just gender, but diversity of thought, experience, and background,” she said on the BBC’s Wake up to Money programme.
“Companies have been very clear that their business will perform better with diversity,” she added.
A statement from the review board shared that all FTSE 100, 250 and 350 firms reached their targets. That is, of women accounting for up to 33% of boards by the end of last year.
However, some believe there is still work to be done. Ann Cairns, global chair of the 30% Club, which champions better boardroom representation of women around the world, said to the BBC that progress around women being given equal opportunity at top career levels is still “fragile and slow”.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng agrees, warning that the positive findings shouldn’t result in complacency. He shared: “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.”
“The UK government’s voluntary, business-led approach to increasing women’s boardroom representation has been hugely successful and will, I hope, serve as a blueprint for countries across the world looking to make business more reflective of society.”
Finally, Mary O’Connor, acting senior partner at KPMG UK, said to the BBC: “It’s hard to believe that as recently as 2011, 43% of the FTSE 350 still had all-male boards. Thankfully the representation of women on boards and in leadership positions has significantly improved in recent years. This review having played a critical role in realising that.”
“Our collective efforts to truly eradicate those barriers and create an inclusive leadership culture doesn’t stop here. This is where it intensifies.”
To celebrating the many achievements, and, as the review shared on social, ‘shining a light on areas where there is still more to do’.