Women make up 40% of boards at top UK companies for first time
LONDON (Reuters) - Womens' share of board seats at Britain's 350 biggest listed companies reached 40% for the first time in 2022, a UK government-backed report on Tuesday showed, three years ahead of plan.
Improving boardroom diversity has become a focus for many policymakers and investors who say a broader range of experience improves decision-making and corporate culture.
In February 2022, the business-led FTSE Women Leaders Review set FTSE350 companies a 40% target for women on boards and in leadership teams by 2025, up from a previous target of 33%.
The new goal was given official backing by the Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates listed companies, in April 2022, with the watchdog also including broader diversity targets.
The proportion of women on FTSE 350 boards increased by almost 3% in 2022 to reach 40.2% as of Jan. 11, 2023, while in the top 100 companies, the FTSE 100, women held 40.5% of board positions, up from 39.1% in 2021, the report said.
"This progress is very welcome, and I'd urge business to keep up this momentum to achieve better balance in leadership positions as well as in boardrooms," Kemi Badenoch, business and trade secretary and women's equality minister, said.
In contrast to countries such as Belgium and France, Britain does not have a mandatory quota system for women on boards at listed companies, making the progress more remarkable, the report said.
Just over a decade ago, 152 of the FTSE 350 Boards had no women on them. Now there are women on every board and the vast majority of companies have three or more, it added.
However, the portion of women in leadership roles - defined as the executive committee and its direct reports - still falls short of the target, with the FTSE 100 at 34.3% and FTSE350 at 33.5%.
(Reporting by Virginia Furness; editing by Barbara Lewis)