In February 2011, Lord Davies’ landmark review into Women on Boards was published, aimed at identifying the barriers preventing the greater presence of women in the boardroom, in addition to making recommendations to government and business on what actions could be taken to increase the proportion of women on corporate boards. Now, more than three years on, the third annual progress report on the matter has been published.

Of great interest to many clients of business consulting services will be the findings of Lord Davies and his steering group that the intervening three years have seen a greater number of women appointed to decision-making roles. The latest figures show that 20.7 per cent of FTSE100 board positions are now occupied by women, compared to 17.3 per cent in April 2013 and 12.5 per cent in 2011. The original target set by Lord Davies in 2011 was 25 per cent by 2015.

Lord Davies observed: “The rate of change that we have seen at the heart of our biggest companies over the last 3 years has been impressive. The voluntary approach is working and companies have got the message that better balanced boards bring real business benefits. We are finally seeing a culture change taking place at the heart of British business.” But he warned that the world was continuing to watch and judge on the suitability of the voluntary approach as opposed to regulation, adding “we need to now prove we can do this on our own.”

The progress made since the original 2011 women on boards report was also hailed by Business Secretary Vince Cable, as well as the now former Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller, who said that “It makes clear economic sense for women to be able to rise to the top.” Cable, meanwhile said that the figures showed “that businesses are getting the right mix of talent around their boardroom table and understand the importance of this.” He added that achievement of the 25 per cent target by next year now depended on the appointment of fewer than 50 women to FTSE100 boards.

Clients of business consulting services will be intrigued to read that as of 3 March 2014, 25.5 per cent of non-executive directorships and 6.9 per cent of executive directorships were held by women. Women accounted for 231 of the 1,117 FTSE100 board positions and 28 per cent of all board appointments in 2013/14. However, there remained two all-male boards. In the FTSE 250, 15.6 per cent of overall board directorships for women compared to the 13.2 per cent seen in 2013. Although 48 all-male boards remained, women nonetheless made up 33 per cent of all board appointments in 2013/14.