Women now account for 19 per cent of FTSE100 directors, according to Women on Boards, in news that will interest many of those looking to ensure the highest standards of corporate governance in their own firms.

The growth, which was welcomed by Business Secretary Vince Cable, suggests that good progress is continuing to be made in reaching the target of 25 per cent of board positions being held by women, as set by Lord Davies.

The 19 per cent of FTSE100 directors who are now female compares to the 12.5 per cent recorded in February 2011, and 17.4 per cent in May this year. Whereas only 15.6 per cent of non-executive directors in February 2011 were women, this had increased to 22 per cent in May 2013 and is now 23.8 per cent, according to the latest figures.

Meanwhile, while February 2011 saw just 5.5 per cent of executive director posts being held by women, only rising to 5.6 per cent by May 2013, that figure has now shot up to 6.1 per cent.

Whereas in May 2013, only 12 per cent of board appointments since 1 March this year had been women, that figure is 24 per cent now. If Lord Davies’ target is to be met, 66 more female directors will need to be appointed to FTSE100 boards over the next two years.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “I’m glad the number of women at the top of our most successful companies continues to rise. Businesses are clearly still striving to get the right mix of talent around their boardroom table and we must not lose that momentum.

“We have until 2015 to reach our target of 25 per cent of women on the boards of listed companies which Lord Davies set us two years ago. With today’s encouraging figures, I am confident we can get over the finish line.”

The Business Secretary stressed the importance of appointing more women to non-executive director posts to good corporate governance, stating that it was “not an end in itself.” He said that the acquisition of greater executive experience by talented women would enable them to “not only advise, but run this country’s great companies.”

However, for all of the good progress that the representation figures showed, there was actually an increase over the last six months in the FTSE100’s number of all-male boards, suggesting a new needed focus for corporate governance. In February 2011, there were 79 boards with female representation, a figure that rose to an all-time high of 95 companies in May 2013. However, that has now dropped to 94 companies.

These companies continue to be engaged by government, with Vince Cable having written to the all-male boards earlier in the year to ask what measures they are taking to tackle this issue.

The FTSE250, meanwhile, also saw an increase in female directors, to 14.9 per cent, compared to the February 2011 and May 2013 figures of 7.8 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively.