19%!

The latest stats released by BoardWatch show that FTSE 100 companies now have 19% women directors (up from 12.5% prior to Lord Davies’ review). 31 companies in the FTSE 100 now have 25% or more women on their boards, and 13 have already hit 30%! In the FTSE 250, 41 companies have 25% or more women directors, with 19 companies having 30% or more – proportionally less than the FTSE 100 but still a positive trend. Importantly, 25% of FTSE 100 and 36% of FTSE 250 board appointments since March 1 this year have been women, and we applaud Kazakhmys, who finally leave the all-male list after announcing the appointment of Lynda Armstrong OBE to their board.

This is all fantastic news, especially after the brief lull earlier this year, and it is great to see the figures going determinedly in the right direction. Companies have realised that just appointing one woman to their board does not hold the key to sustainable change. 30% is the widely accepted level at which members of a minority start to become part of the majority, and this feeds in to the powerful intuitive argument for having a varied board, with less danger of ‘groupthink’ and more diversity of skills and ideas.

Despite the momentum at the top, focusing attention on the pipeline remains critically important. While the trajectory is positive, there are still only 6.1% women Executive Directors in FTSE 100 companies, and 5.4% in the FTSE 250. In order for companies to truly change business culture, they need to focus on retaining female talent at all levels of their organisations – only then will this feed through to the numbers at the top.