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FTSE 350 firms exceed target for women on boards
28 February 2023

Women now make up over 40% of boardroom positions across FTSE 350 firms, as the UK hit its own gender balance target three years early.

The latest report from the Government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review showed that 40.2% of FTSE 350 board positions are now held by women, increasing by nearly 3% over 2022.

This exceeds the voluntary target set by the Review, for boards and leadership teams to have a minimum of 40% women’s representation by the end of 2025.

The report tracks the progress being made by Britain’s largest companies with more than 30,000 employees on boards and in leadership positions, in efforts to break down barriers to progression of talented women into senior roles.

It also secured Britain as second place when compared internationally with 11 countries driving to improve gender balance, with France taking the lead.

The report stressed that this was especially notable because gender representation targets are entirely voluntary in the UK whereas top-listed companies in countries in the European Union will be forced to have women in at least 40% of board roles by mid-2026, thanks to a new law passed in November.

Less than a tenth of companies on the FTSE 350 now have fewer than a third of board roles held by women, the report showed, whereas just over a decade ago, half of the boards had no women on them at all, which the report said was “truly a thing of the past”.

But the report stressed there was still more work to do to achieve gender parity, with the proportion of women in leadership positions – defined as the executive committee and direct reports to the committee – at 33.5% for the FTSE 350.

The firms now have “critical” goal to achieve a target of 40% women in leadership teams before 2025, it said. Furthermore, just nine firms in the FTSE 100 have a women as their chief executive.

However, there has been a big jump in the number of women as financial directors, up from 16% in 2021 to 23% in 2022.

For the first time, 50 of the UK’s largest private companies were also tracked as part of the report, including the John Lewis Partnership, Nationwide Building Society and the “big four” accounting firms – Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG. It showed that 31.8% of board positions were held by women across the top private firms.

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