Appointing women to the board: our progress so far

04 Mar 2022

Appointing women to the board: our progress so far

For a fourth year running we have reached gender parity in our placements and three in five of the women we introduced to FTSE 350 boards were new to the community.

Odgers Berndtson is pleased to report that we are again surpassing the Women on Boards Enhanced Code target for female board appointments at FTSE 350 companies. More importantly, we have for a fourth year running, reached gender parity in our placements and three in five of the women we introduced to FTSE 350 boards were new to the community.

As of December 2021, 52% of our FTSE 350 main board appointments went to a woman. Of these, 58% were new to the FTSE 350 boardroom.

Importantly, 46% of all our FTSE 350 shortlisted candidates were women.

Our achievements come as the Government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review, of which Odgers Berndtson is a longstanding supporter, publishes its report on female board representation. According to the report, the UK has climbed to second in the international rankings for women’s representation on boards at the FTSE 100 level. It shows that nearly 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women, compared with 12.5% just ten years ago.

The report, which builds on the success of the previous Hampton-Alexander and Davies Reviews, monitors women’s representation in 24,000 positions on FTSE 350 boards and in leadership teams of the UK’s largest companies.

The report highlights the success of the UK government’s voluntary, business-led approach to setting targets for appointing more women to boards, as the UK progressed from fifth to second in the international rankings at the FTSE 100 level, overtaking countries such as Norway, which enforces a mandatory quota system on businesses.

The number of women in chair roles across the FTSE 350 rose to 48, up from 39 in 2020, and there has been a significant decrease in the number of ‘One & Done’ boards to just six this year, as British businesses take action to diversify their boardrooms. 

UK businesses have also continued to drive progress in their leadership teams in 2021, despite challenges faced in responding to COVID-19. There are over 700 more women in leadership roles in the FTSE 350 companies this year, increasing women’s representation to 31.5%, an increase of two percentage points year-on-year.

While there has been remarkable progress at boardroom level, the report also shines a light on areas where there is still more to do. For example, only one in three leadership roles and around 25% of all executive committee roles are held by women and there are very few women in the CEO role. Equally, there are still many companies yet to hit the former 33% target set by the Hampton Alexander Review

This is where we can help. Odgers Berndtson excels at diverse appointments and inclusive recruitment processes. Our methodology brings the highest quality of leadership expertise from a truly diverse pool of talent, whether that’s for board or leadership team positions. If you’d like more information or help with your next leadership appointment, please get in touch using the contact details below.

For more information on how women can secure their first board role, please read this article: How female leaders can get their first Board role.

For more information and advice about board roles generally, download the guide to getting your first non-executive director role.

Get in touch with Susanne Thorning-Lund, Partner, Chair & Board Practice