Number of female directors in FTSE 100 firms climbs 18% in last three years

LaToya Harding
·3-min read
Attractive young mentor businesswoman conducts coaching in boardroom at company meeting. Confidence woman training corporate team at briefing. Young employee share thoughts standing at table.
Across the UK, women accounted for just 33.8% of all board directors, lagging behind the likes of France and Norway. Photo: Getty

The number of female directors within FTSE 100 (^FTSE) companies has risen 18% in the last three years, however, women still account for just 34% of UK board members.

According to new research by Yoppie, which looked at the number of blue-chip directorships held by females since 2017, there are now 305 female directors at the very top tier of business, compared to 259 three years ago.

It also found that some FTSE 100 females held more than one directorship, meaning that there has been a 21% increase in the number of female held directorships over the period, a 24% increase in the number of female executive directorships and a 20% jump in the number of female non-executive directorships.

The average age of a female director across the top FTSE companies is 58, two years younger than male directors.

The biggest age gap is between chairs, with the average female chair aged 60 versus 66 for the average male chair.

However, the study showed that across the UK, women accounted for just 33.8% of all board directors, lagging behind the likes of France and Norway - where women account for 44.6% and 44.2% of all board directors respectively.

At chief executive level, the gap widens. Sweden ranks as the top country, with women making up 20% of all Swedish CEOs, and Norway (16%) and Ireland (15%) also ranking high. In the UK this figure sits at just 5.3%.

READ MORE: Top 10 UK cities to start a business as a woman in 2021

“It’s great to see an increase in the number of women bossing it at the highest level of business and it’s long overdue,” Daniella Peri, founder of Yoppie, said.

“Women in business want to be appointed on merit and so this slow but steady progress suggests we’re on the right track, rather than implementing an immediate fifty-fifty split simply to tick the workplace gender balance box.”

She added: “However, we still have some work to do in the UK and as a Swedish national, I’m delighted to see my home nation leading the way with such a high percentage of women in business.

“This is something I hope we can emulate here in the UK and increasing the extremely low number of female CEOs would be a perfect place to start.”

It comes after a study this week showed that women in the UK hit the peak of their earnings aged 40, while men's average pay continues to rise for another four years.

According to TotalJobs Peak Earnings Predictor, this creates an average peak salary gap of £8,122 ($11,226).

"Peak earnings" is the age when you earn the highest wage relative to hours worked. Most workers can expect to achieve their highest earnings in the middle of their careers, and this is influenced by a combination of factors including experience, location, education, industry, and the companies they have worked for.

Once peak has been reached, workers' salaries either stall or start decreasing slightly until they retire.

The predictor enables people to benchmark their earnings and find out their potential peak salaries and at what age they could achieve them.

TotalJobs research found that women’s average salary is only higher than men’s at the age of 21, with men’s wages outstripping women’s over the rest of their careers.

WATCH: Why do we still have a gender pay gap?