REUTERS | Michaela Rehle

FTSE Women Leaders Review extends its scope to include UK top 50 private companies

The FTSE Women Leaders Review (the Review) is an independent, business-led framework supported by the government, which sets recommendations for Britain’s largest companies to improve the representation of women on boards and in leadership positions. It is the successor phase to the Hampton-Alexander and Davies Reviews, and captures data on over 24,000 roles across FTSE 350 boards, extending down into the two leadership layers below the board. This makes the UK’s approach and drive for more women in business leadership arguably the biggest and most ambitious of any country to date.

The Review uses a voluntary business-led model that is admired for having achieved progress at scale and under entirely persuasive means. From a low starting in point in 2011, when just 9% of FTSE 350 board roles were held by women, women’s representation at board level has increased to 38% at the beginning of 2022, providing clear evidence that this approach is working.

Furthermore, the UK climbed to second in the international rankings for women’s representation on boards at FTSE 100 level, with data from the Review’s most recent report showing nearly 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women, compared with 13% just ten years ago. The Review’s 2021 findings demonstrate a major sea change in attitudes to getting women leaders to the top table of business in the UK, with women’s board representation increasing in 2021 across the FTSE 100 (39%), FTSE 250 (37%) and FTSE 350 (38%).

While there has been remarkable progress at boardroom level, the report also shines a light on areas where there is still more to do. For example, only one in three leadership roles and around 25% of all executive committee roles are held by women and there are few women in the CEO role. Equally, there are still many companies yet to hit the former 33% target set by the Hampton-Alexander Review.

For further information, see Practice note, Gender diversity in boardrooms.

The new Recommendations

In February 2022, the Review announced four new Recommendations that build on the work and progress of the last decade. They set expectations and aspirational goals for this next and anticipated final stage in the journey to achieve gender balanced boards and leadership teams by the end of 2025. The Recommendations are:

  1. Increased voluntary target for FTSE 350 Boards, and for FTSE 350 Leadership teams to a minimum of 40% women, by the end of 2025.
  2. FTSE 350 companies to have at least one woman in the Chair or Senior Independent Director role on the board, and/or one woman in the Chief Executive or Finance Director role in the company, by the end of 2025.
  3. Key stakeholders to set best practice guidance or have mechanisms in place to encourage FTSE 350 Boards that have not achieved the prior 33% target, to do so.
  4. The scope of the Review is extended to include 50 of the largest private companies in the UK.

The Recommendations are intended to support a new generation of leaders picking up the baton in this next phase and to provide momentum and the route map to overcome the remaining challenges that still inhibit women’s ability to progress within the workplace.

Extending the scope of the Review to include large private companies will help strengthen and standardise the regulatory approach, as well as bring diversity expectations in line with public listed companies and encourage further progress across British business. Having considered the UK’s top private companies by size and number of employees, along with their significance in British business and to the economy, 50 of the largest private companies are currently being contacted to welcome them to the Review.

The companies include a diverse range of sectors and types of business, from family run businesses to limited liability partnerships and co-operatives. These companies will follow the same reporting requirements as FTSE 350 companies, providing leadership gender data via a secure online portal during November, with publication of their gender diversity data in the February 2023 report. The Review welcomes the addition of these companies and looks forward to reporting positively on progress in due course. Many thanks to all of those focused on gender diversity as we continue the journey to achieving gender balance at the top of British business.

For further information, you can visit the FTSE Women Leaders website, LinkedIn or Twitter, or email You can also read FAQs for the Review.


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