Increasing female leadership is a priority for United Kingdom government

Did you know that increasing female leadership in British business was a priority on the government level? That wasn't merely words.

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The former Prime Minister's David Cameron administration called for an end to all-male boards of directors anywhere on the FTSE350 and set the goal of reaching 33% female representation on corporate boards by 2020.  

Lord Davies, Parliamentary at the House of Lords, worked on the guidelines for 'Improving the Gender Balance on British Boards' program to voluntarily involve FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) corporations in increasing number of women on top positions.

Remarkably, the program, launched in 2011, showed tremendous results by the end of 2015:

  • from 152 all-male boards, the FTSE 350, dwindled to only 15 companies with all-male boards (all 15 are in FTSE 250);
  • the percentage of women on the FTSE 100 boards has increased more than twice: from 12.5% (135 board members) to 26.1% of women (286 board members);  
  • in just over four years, 550 new women appointments took place overall.

Though such rapid results may look impressive, there is still short of the increase required to meet the 33% board target by 2020 as set out in the Davies report. The 33% target could be achieved, but only if the pace of change increases again.

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Trying to hit the goal, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has just promoted Emma Walmsley, its head of consumer healthcare, to the CEO position, meaning that she will become arguably the most powerful woman in British business, with GSK's market capitalization of $104 billion -- far higher than any other women-led FTSE 100 company!

Read the original guidelines dated 2011 and the most recent report dated 2015.