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Martha Lane Fox is on the board of FTSE 100 company Marks and Spencer

Women now make up 25% of top 100 boards

UK top companies have reached a “major milestone” in increasing the number of women in their boardrooms, but more needs to be done, a report says.

FTSE 100 companies have now met a voluntary target of 25% women board members, says the report’s author, former trade minister Lord Davies.

But he says this should now be replaced by a new target of 33% of women board members at FTSE 350 firms by 2020.

In 2011, women made up 12.5% of board members.

Lord Davies said that there had been a “steady and sustained increase” since then.

He cautioned against the introduction of legally enforced quotas to guarantee a female presence on boards, describing them as “unwarranted”.

On the Today Programme, Lord Davies was asked why 260 of the 286 women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies are non-executives.

“The focus of our work was on fixing the boardroom. We’ve done that and there’s very few all-male boards left,” Lord Davies he said.

“We now need to see the same change, through a voluntary approach, in the executive committee structure of big companies and small companies.”

But Shainaz Firfirayat, an assistant professor at Warwick Business School warned that setting quotas was not be enough to fix the boardroom gender gap: “It may not be enough for companies to simply appoint women to board positions in response to external pressures.

“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.”

She said diligent management was needed to ensure their appointment was effective.

‘Significant effort’

Lord Davies said in his latest report that the next five years should see “substantive and sustainable improvement in women’s representation on boards of FTSE 350 companies”.

“Following five years of significant effort on the part of the biggest FTSE boards, all FTSE-listed companies should be taking action,” he added.

The government has already said it plans to bring in a target to include women on the boards of all the UK’s top 350 companies.

This will come as part of a series of “equality-boosting measures” which it hopes to introduce in the first half of 2016.

via BBC News

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