The proportion of women sitting on FTSE 100 boards has hit 20% for the first time, suggesting the UK might meet the Lord Davies target of 25% next year without quotas.
The latest figures from Professional Boards Forum BoardWatch, which tracks female board appointments in FTSE 100 and 250 companies, show women made up 20.4% of FTSE 100 directors in January 2014. This is up from 12.5% three years ago.
Women also hold 25% of non-executive directorships, up from 15.6% in 2011.
Since 1 March 2013, 27% of all board appointments have been women. To reach Lord Davies’s target of 25% by 2015, 51 additional board seats need to be filled by women.
Elin Hurvenes, chair and founder of the Professional Board Forum, called the progress “impressive and encouraging”.
“Germany is introducing quotas. The UK is succeeding without,” she said.
However, the figures also show the number of female executive directors is still only 7.2%, up less than 2 percentage points in three years. In the FTSE 100, there are only four female CEOs: Moya Greene at Royal Mail, Carolyn McCall at Easyjet, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco and Angela Ahrendts at Burberry.
Currently 36 companies have 25% or more female board members, with 13% having 30% or more. Drinks giant Diageo has the most female directors, at 44%, followed by Capita (40%) and Royal Mail and Unilever (36% each).
Only three FTSE 100 companies still have all male boards: Antofagasta, Glencore Xstrata and London Stock Exchange Group.
Jane Scott, who compiles the statistics, said these three companies were “cutting increasing lonely figures as the remaining all-male boards on the FTSE 100. None of these will want to be the last one standing,” she said.
“FTSE 100 chairman have been rigorous, and patient in recruiting for their boards, holding out for the best-qualified candidates and insisting their advisers look in a wider talent pool.
“The result has been high-calibre appointments and steady progress in the overall diversity and gender balance on FTSE 100 boards. These new statistics are encouraging and give cause for optimism that the Lord Davies target will be met, preferably exceeded, next year.”
Source: Katie Jacobs, HR Magazine