The Government has urged the UK’s biggest public companies to boost female representation in senior roles by the end of the decade after it was revealed that the number of female appointments on boards in the UK has fallen to a five-year low.
Ministers are calling on FTSE 350 businesses to ensure a third of boardrooms seats are filled with women by 2020.
Sir Philip Hampton, chair of GlaxoSmithKline, and Dame Helen Alexander, chair of UBM are leading the review.
They will consider how to drive improvement and identify the obstacles preventing women’s progressions, with findings to be presented to the Government by the end of 2016.
It comes after a new 2016 Female FTSE Board report warned that the proportion of new appointments going to women has plunged to a five-year low.
The report by Cranfield University, City University London and Queen Mary University London found that the overall percentage of women on FTSE boards has however increased compared to March 2015.
The proportion of women on FTSE 100 boards is up from 12.5 per cent to 26 per cent, according to the Lord Davies gender equality report.
Louisa Watt, a partner and head of debt and claims trading at Cadwalader, an international law firm behind the Women in the City Programme, said now is a “fantastic” time to be a woman in business.
“One, because you have very strong female political leaders who are now in the limelight and getting their day in the media, and everyone is looking to them to help solve the crisis.
“But also because of the fact that we have women’s networks and sponsorship programmes that were never available before, so I think there are more opportunities now for women to help and support each other in leadership roles,” she told the Independent.
Watt said the next generation of women leaders should not repeat the mistakes of their superiors, who had to fight for their own place in the limelight as opposed to offering mentorship and advice.
“We should take on board all the issues that we dealt with as we were moving up in our careers, to actually help women further down the road, because you can take delight in someone else’s success,” Watt said.
Miranda Pode, a UK managing partner at Egon Zehnder, a consultancy firm working with businesses to help women fulfill their potential, has committed to help companies to reach the target of 25 female chief executive of FTSE 100 companies by 2025 up from five in 2014.
Pode said it is encouraging to see diversity is increasing around the boardroom table.
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
1/15 Angela Merkel - German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has retained her number one ranking for topping this year’s Forbes list for the fifth consecutive year and ten times in total.
2/15 Hillary Clinton - Presidential candidate, United States
Clinton, who could become the world’s most powerful leader in 2016, has been featured on the list every year since it launched in 2014.
3/15 Melinda Gates - Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates has cemented her dominance in philanthropy and global development to the tune of $3.9 billion in giving in 2014 and more than $33 billion in grant payments since she founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband in 2000.
4/15 Janet Yellen - Chair, Federal Reserve, Washington, United States
Janet Yellen made history in 2014 when she became the first female head of the Federal Reserve.
5/15 Marry Barra - CEO of General Motors
Mary Barra made history by becoming the first female CEO of General Motors.
6/15 Christina Lagarde - Managing director, International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde is entering the last year of her first term heading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the organisation which serves as economic advisor and backstop for 188 countries. Under Lagarde the IMF has supported efforts to increase female labor force participation as way to reduce poverty and inequality. The UK, Germany, China, France and Korea have endorsed Christine Lagarde for another term as the head of the IMF.
7/15 Dilma Rousseff - President, Brazil
Dilma Rousseff, who has been elected in 2010, is Brazil's first female president.
8/15 Sheryl Sandberg - COO of Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of bestseller “Lean In,” joined the company in 2008 and became the first woman on its board four years later. Sandberg helped the social network go public and expand digital revenue.
9/15 Susan Wojcicki - CEO of Youtube
Susan Wojcicki is CEO of YouTube, the world’s most popular digital video platform used by over a billion people across the globe. She oversees YouTube's content and business operations, engineering, and product development.
10/15 Michelle Obama - First lady, United States
Michelle Obama, the 44th first lady of the United States has focused her attention on issues such as the support of military families, helping working women balance career and family and encouraging national service.
11/15 Park Geun-hye - President, South Korea
Park Geun-hye is the first female leader of a country that has the highest level of gender inequality in the developed world. In her inauguration speech, she promised to prioritise both national security and economic revitalisation.
12/15 Oprah Winfrey - Actress, Director/Producer, Entrepreneur, Personality, Philanthropist
Oprah Winfrey, a former queen of daytime TV has proven she can thrive without a talkshow. Her 'The Life You Want' tour sold out stadiums from Newark to Seattle in 2014.
13/15 Ginni Rometty - CEO of IBM
Ginni Rometty joined IBM in 1981 and later became the first woman to lead the company.
14/15 Meg Whitman - CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Meg Whitman is the only woman to have headed two large U.S. public companies: eBay and Hewlett-Packard.Until Marissa Mayer's arrival at Yahoo, she was the only female head of a leading Internet-based company.
15/15 Indra Nooyi - CEO of PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. Mrs. Nooyi leads one of the world’s largest convenient food and beverage companies, with 2008 annual revenues of more than $43 billion.
“The big challenge in the UK is now no longer women in the boardroom but women at executive level, where we have seen glacial progress,” Pode said.
“Many CEOs are appointed from internal candidates, which means the inclusion of more women in leadership pipelines and identifying and developing this potential is key,” she added