The FTSE 350 has 30% of board positions filled by women for the first time since the London Stock Exchange was established in 1571.
The latest figure from the 30% Club, which encourages greater representation of women on boards, and BoardEx shows that 903 directorships are held by women out of 3008 positions in total.
When the 30% Club was founded by Dame Helena Morrissey in 2010, only 12.5% of FTSE 100 boards and 9.5% of FTSE 350 boards were female.
Brenda Trenowden, global co-chair of the 30% Club, said: “This is an incredible milestone on the journey towards greater diversity and gender parity on company boards. The fact that we’ve met our 2020 target ahead of time means the narrative is working.
“Through our engagement with our member chairs and CEOs, we have seen senior leadership amongst the world’s largest companies evolve for the better, lifting gender representation from a mere 9.5% for the FTSE 350 in 2010, to a much healthier 30.01% in 2019.”
She added: “Research has shown that more diverse boards contribute to better all-round business performance. The 30% Club believes that gender balance on boards and in senior management not only encourages better leadership and governance, but ultimately increases corporate performance for both companies and their shareholders”.
For nine years, the 30% Club has implemented a collaborative, concerted business-led effort to help accelerate progress towards better gender balance at all levels of organisations.
Ann Cairns, global co-chair of 30% Club, added: “When the 30% Club was established in 2010, the goal was to reach 30% female representation as a very minimum. Thirty per cent is the number at which a minority group starts to become heard and considered – that target is our floor, not our ceiling. With only 13 female CEOs in the FTSE 350 it is clear there is much work to be done.”
CEO of nutrition specialist Nosh Detox, Geeta Sidhu-Robb, a commentator on the gender divide in senior business roles, commented: “Business leaders need to also heed the benefits of diversity at the boardroom level, with proven benefits for business culture in cultivating a broad range of attributes and perspective and proven financial gains.
“As evidence continues to mount that reaching the top quartile for diversity at board level results in higher dividends and better financial returns than competitors, it provides solid empirical reasons for more and more women to reach the top of companies. We need to systemise this change to ensure more women – and more women from diverse backgrounds – continue to have a seat at the boardroom table.”