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More women on boards but trouble in the pipeline

Women are continuing to fill more positions in Britain's top boardrooms, according to the latest data. But analysts are warning of a blockage in the talent pipeline that may threaten further progress.

Almost one in five directors (19 per cent) in FTSE100 companies are now women, up from 12.8 per cent in 2011. In the same year, the Government set a target that 25 per cent of boardroom positions should be held by women. According to BoardWatch, these latest figures represent a gap of 66 boardroom seats that still need to be taken by women.

While the number of female non-executive directors (part-time directors not employed by the company), has risen to 23.8 per cent from 15.6 per cent in the last two years, similar gains have not been made for executive directors. Women hold only 6.1 per cent of executive positions, compared to 5.5 per cent in 2011.

A problem has been identified just below the main board level on what's usually called the executive committee, often the springboard to the top jobs. A quarter of FTSE100 companies have no women on their executive committees and just 14.7 per cent of these places are currently taken by women, according to The Guardian.

Worse still, figures from Cranfield Business School suggest things are heading in the wrong direction. It found that the proportion of women on executive committees had fallen this year to 15.3 per cent from 17.2 percent in 2010.

One large fund manager has recently announced that it will vote against the chairs of any FTSE100 company that still has an all-male board, or that hasn't set aspirational targets, or that has failed to make adequate disclosures about its gender imbalance by the time the Government's deadline passes in 2015. Five FTSE100 companies still have all-male boards.

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