If the target of 33 per cent women on the boards of FTSE 350 companies is to be met by next year, half of all senior leadership appointments in 2020 need to go to women. That is the conclusion of the latest Hampton-Alexander report on women in the boardroom.

The independent review, which is supported by the government, also found that currently around 65 per cent of all leadership appointments are going to men on FTSE 100 executive committees. That figure rises to 73 per cent on FTSE 250 executive committees. As a result, one in every two available appointments at FTSE 350 leadership level needs to go to women next year if the target is to be met.

The review also found that around 175 companies are still well adrift from the 33 per cent target and that there were 44 executive committees that remained all-male preserves.

The report is particularly critical of companies that have taken an approach of “One & Done”. In other words, boards that have appointed one woman and then considered that they had done what was required of them.

It has appealed again to those boards in this report to move on from such a “tokenistic approach” to gender equality in leadership and urged them to take more targeted action to meet the 33 per cent target.

Last year, the review called out 74 boards for taking this approach. It also asked those same companies to set out their strategy for improving their gender-balance. As a result the “One & Done” boards have reduced to 39 this year. However, 28 of those same companies reappeared again on the list this year.

On the plus side, the report found that women now hold 32.4 per cent of all FTSE 100 positions, up from 30.2 per cent last year. As such, the FTSE 100 is very close to meeting the 33 per cent target and, indeed, is likely to do so ahead of the 2020 deadline. The FTSE 250 has also improved over the last year, increasing the number of women on their boards to 29.6 per cent this year, up from 24.9 per cent in 2018.

Overall, there are now only two FTSE 350 boards made up of only men and forty-two that have only one woman on their board.

Matthew Pull, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “Although the report, and the Government, looks to celebrate the progress that has been made, it is disappointing that this is set against a backdrop of the FTSE 350 being highly likely to miss its 33 per cent target by 2020 without drastic action in terms of recruitment.

“Even in the unlikely event this target is met, it is clear there is still a long way to go to achieve full gender equality on boards, in leadership roles and across the workplace as a whole.”

To read the report in full, go to: https://ftsewomenleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/HA-Review-Report-2019.pdf