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Government renews efforts to improve female representation on company boards

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LEADERS from some of Britain’s largest companies are to undertake a government-backed review on improving female representation in leadership positions of British business.

The review, which will be led by Sir Philip Hampton, chair of GlaxoSmithKline, and Dame Helen Alexander, chair of UBM, will focus on ensuring the very best of female talent make their way up the pipeline by removing barriers to their success, and continue to drive forward the momentum from Lord Davies’s work – which pushed the numbers of females on FTSE 100 boards up from 12.5% to 26%.

The review broadens the ambition to the entire FTSE 350 and raising the target to 33% of women on boards by 2020.

The focus for the work on the pipeline will be on representation on executive committees and direct reports to the executive committee in FTSE 350 companies.

Sir Philip Hampton said: “It is clear that gender balance on FTSE boards has undergone a dramatic shift in recent years and this progress continues. However, we must significantly increase the number of women in senior leadership roles if we are to harness the skills of women for the benefit of business and the UK economy.

A key element of the review will also consider current research on how to drive improvements and the obstacles preventing women’s progression. It is expected that findings will be presented to government by the end of 2016.

In order to meet the 33% target for FTSE 350 boards by 2020, a constant turnover is required and an appointment rate of one in three board positions going to women.

Turnover rates have decreased, with fewer people leaving and joining companies, and the percentage of new appointments going to women over the past six months dropping below the one in three required to meet the 33% target.

Progress in the executive ranks and in the executive pipeline remains very slow. Only 9.7% of executive directors in the FTSE 100 are women, dropping to only 5.6% in the FTSE 250.

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