Women make up almost 40% of board seats on FTSE 100 firms

FTSE Women Leaders Review shares that the UK has climbed to 2nd place in the international rankings for women’s representation on boards at FTSE 100 level

The UK is now second in the international rankings for women’s representation on boards at FTSE 100 level, as data shared that 39.1% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are held by women. According to the latest FTSE Women Leaders Review, this percentage was at 12.5% a decade ago, boosting the UK’s ranking above a third-placed Norway, which ensures businesses adhere to a mandatory quota system.

The top % of board positions held by women 2021 are as follows:

France: 43.80%

UK: 39.1%

Norway: 38.2%

Sweden: 36.9%

Netherlands: 35.3%

Australia: 35.1%

Finland: 35.1%

Belgium: 34.3%

Spain: 34%

Canada: 33.7%

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy expressed that the data: “demonstrate a major sea-change in attitudes to getting women leaders to the top table of business in the UK.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “UK businesses have made enormous progress in recent years. Today’s findings highlight this with more women at the top table of Britain’s biggest companies than ever before.”

Continuing the growth 

FTSE Women Leaders Review has set out four guidelines to ensure that British companies continue to improve on this percentage. They are as follows: 

  • The voluntary target for FTSE 350 Boards and for FTSE 350 Leadership teams is increased to a minimum of 40% women’s representation by the end of 2025
  • FTSE 350 companies should have at least one women in the Chair, Senior Independent Director role on the Board and/or one woman in the Chief Executive Officer or Finance Director role by the end of 2025
  • Key stakeholders should continue to set best practice guidelines or use alternative mechanisms to encourage any FTSE 350 Board that has not yet achieved the previous 33% target for the end of 2020, to do so
  • The scope of the Review is extended beyond FTSE 350 companies to include the largest 50 private companies in the UK by sales

Denise Wilson, Chief Executive of FTSE Women Leaders Review said: “Today the FTSE Women Leaders Review announces four new recommendations for this next stage, which will embed the progress and hard-won gains of the last decade and take business further on the journey to gender balance in the boardroom and in leadership.

“We know there is much more work to do and no shortage of experienced, capable women, ambitious for themselves and their company across all sectors of business today. So while we continue to build on progress for women on boards, we need to firmly shift focus in this next phase to women in leadership roles at the top of the organisation.”

Time for change

Although the data demonstrates great progression, more work still needs to be done, as there are only eight female CEOs in FTSE 100 companies, and ten leading those in the FTSE 250. The FTSE 350 has only four companies —  Admiral Group Plc, Direct Line Insurance Group Plc, Pennon Group Plc and Severn Trent Plc — that have female CEOs and chairs. In addition, men still show 75% of all executive committee roles and only one in three women are in leadership positions.


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