Twenty-five per cent of UK top 100 boards now made up of women
A new report says that a "major milestone" has been reached in the UK economy, as top FTSE 100 companies have now met a voluntary target of having women make up a quarter of their board membership.
However, the report's author, former trade minister Lord Davies, says that more still needs to be done.
Steady and sustained increase
As recently as 2011, women only made up 12.5% of board members, and Lord Davies admitted that since then, the increase in numbers has been "steady and sustained." Nevertheless, he now says a new target should be set in order to reach a level of 33% women board members at FTSE 350 firms by 2020.
Lord Davies warned against any attempt to legally enforce quotas, calling them "unwarranted", but said in the latest report that there should be "substantive and sustainable improvement in women's representation on boards of FTSE 350 companies" over the next five years.
"Following five years of significant effort on the part of the biggest FTSE boards, all FTSE-listed companies should be taking action," he explained.
A target to achieve more women on the boards of all the UK's top 350 companies is already an established aim of government plans as part of a series of "equality-boosting measures."
Assistant professor at Warwick Business School Shainaz Firfirayat warned that imposing quotas would not be enough to solve the gender gap problem at boardroom level.
"It may not be enough for companies to simply appoint women to board positions in response to external pressures," she said.
"Prior research has shown that women who succeed in typically male tasks such as leadership positions are more disliked and derogated, implying that women confront obstacles in work settings that are not encountered by men to the same degree," Firfirayat commented.