Via Yahoo Finance

Women now hold a third of board positions in the UK’s top public companies, almost a year sooner than expected.

The latest data allows the government’s Hampton-Alexander review to claim it has hit one of its two key gender diversity targets ahead of schedule, after it set a goal in 2016 of women filling 33% of board seats in the top 350 UK listed companies by the end of this year.

However, the review is struggling to achieve its second main aim to have 33% of women in the leadership teams of firms listed in the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indices.

In order to achieve that second goal, half of all available FTSE 350 leadership roles will now need to go to women in 2020.

The business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said the boardroom target had been achieved voluntarily and without the need for legislation, fines or penalties.

She said: “The Hampton-Alexander review has done fantastic work but it’s clear that women continue to face barriers to success, whether that’s through promotion to key roles or how they are treated by colleagues.”

A lack of women on top leadership teams – often called executive committees, which are one level below the board – has long been considered one of the main barriers to increasing gender balance in the boardroom, as they are seen as providing the pipeline of future directors.

The Hampton-Alexander review highlighted a lack of female representation in senior leadership and executive roles in FTSE companies, with women making up only 15% of FTSE 100 finance directors.

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The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, added: “It’s great that more women have seats on company boards. But let’s not kid ourselves – we have a long way to go. Men are still seven times more likely to be finance directors than women. That is not right.”