FTSE Women Leaders Review 2024: Progress on women’s representation on boards and leadership teams

The latest report from the FTSE Women Leaders Review serves as a reminder of how far women’s representation in business has come over the last decade. But it is important not to lose sight of the areas where more work is needed.

The FTSE Women Leaders Review

Every year, the Review looks at the representation of women on the boards and leadership teams of the UK’s FTSE 350 and top 50 private companies. Taking an entirely voluntary approach, the Review has set the following recommendations for the end of 2025:

  • Minimum of 40% women’s representation on FTSE 350 boards and leadership teams;
  • Minimum of 40% women’s representation on the boards and leadership teams of the top 50 private companies; and
  • At least one woman in one of the four key roles – Chair, Senior Independent Director, Chief Executive Officer or Finance Director. 
Reflecting on progress

Women on FTSE 350 boards – target achieved 

Back in 2011, there were 152 all-male boards. Now there are none. And women’s representation on FTSE 350 boards stands at an all-time high of 42.1%. This places the UK second place internationally (behind only France which imposes quotas) for progress in women’s representation on boards. 

Women in FTSE 350 leadership – work in progress 

The statistics for women in leadership paint a slightly less optimistic picture. 

Whilst overall the representation of women in FTSE 350 leadership roles (that is, executive committee and direct reports) stands at an encouraging 35%, the number of women making it into the most influential roles remains significantly lower. Women make up just 15% of Chairs, 8% of CEOs and 18% of Finance Directors, highlighting the scale of change that is still needed at the top end of business.

Top 50 private companies – a mixed bag

2024 marks the second year private companies have been in scope of the Review. Despite not reaching a 100% response rate, 92% of companies participated this time, up from 88% last year. Considering the voluntary nature of the Review, this uptick reflects a promising trend towards embracing diversity.  

Women in leadership in private companies is almost on par with the FTSE 350, currently standing at 36%. However, they are trailing considerably behind public-listed companies when it comes to women on boards, with representation at 31%

Concluding thoughts

The 2024 FTSE Women Leaders Review is, on the face of it, a good news story. Progress is moving in the right direction and the target for representation of women on FTSE 350 boards has already been met. 

However, there remain key areas of challenge, including making sure that women are progressing into the biggest and most influential roles in business.  

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